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Venezuela students protest 'undemocratic' proposed constitutional reforms

[JURIST] Thousands of Venezuelan students on Tuesday protested the proposed constitutional reforms [JURIST report] advanced by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] which are currently under consideration in the Venezuelan National Assembly [official website, in Spanish]. On Saturday, the National Assembly approved a proposal to eliminate presidential term limits [AFP report, in Spanish], and a provision that would allow the president to suspend civil liberties during a state of emergency is still under debate. Police clashed with the students and blocked them from approaching the National Assembly, although a group of protesters was permitted to enter and present a list of concerns to the parliament.

The university students have joined a growing group of critics [JURIST report] who claim that the constitutional reforms will undermine democracy and violate international human rights law [HRW press release]. Members of the opposition have accused Chavez [JURIST report] of using the constitutional reforms to consolidate his power, and even the pro-government party Podemos [party website] has characterized some of the amendments as unconstitutional. The reforms must pass a national referendum, expected to be held on December 2, before they become law. AP has more. IPS has local coverage, in Spanish.

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