Hugo Chavez Enacts New “Dignity Laws”

In a further advancement of human dignity in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez used his standing legislative authority to enact three new laws designed to give dignity to Venezuela’s urban residents. All three of these laws are designed to deal with forced evictions and the management of urban property rights.

The first law passed, “The Law against Eviction and Arbitrary Removal” is intended to protect the rights of tenants, occupiers, and all types of temporary residents from unjust seizures of living spaces. Basically the law controls the way evictions are played out. It gives precedent to mutually beneficial resolutions to “housing disputes,” and forces police to respect the rights and dignity of those evicted.

The law also suspends all current evictions providing the renters the right to legal counsel when facing evictions. It also says a minimum amount of notice a resident must receive before being evicted is 90 days. In additions evictions can not be carried out during the early morning or evening hours, nor can they be implemented on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.

The second law created deals with the circumstances of the ‘residential workers’. ‘Residential workers’ are “live-in employees found in most Venezuelan apartment complexes who are responsible for the collection of utility fees, the management of maintenance and cleaning services, as well as other miscellaneous tasks.”

This law classifies them as regular workers and gives them the same rights that other workers have. They now have the right to organize, access to minimum wage, food ticket and retirement benefits. It also guarantees them the right to dignified living conditions, as opposed their their usual living conditions.

The third law gives community-based management, or collectivization powers to urban and suburban properties. This allows the families who live in those areas to make collective decisions about housing needs and the organization of neighbourhoods.

In addition to these new measures, the Chávez government has begun the process of buying 99 apartment complexes in the city of Caracas. These apartment complexes are occupied only by renters. They would then be sold to the residents by a low-interest loan making the residents the controllers of their homes.

These laws created by Hugo Chavez were created to directly address the problems caused by capitalism and more specifically neo liberalism:

“the housing crisis caused by capitalism and the neoliberal housing policies of the fourth republic [1958-1998] resulting in people…accepting overpriced leases…occupying empty buildings and terrains…accepting exploitative working conditions in the case of concierges…[and] accessing speculative financial credit policies.”

The inhumanities and indignities of human life cannot be resolved by the capitalist system. A socialist alternative is the only way the contradictions that make up this system can be resolved, leading to a better world.