Chavez to grab control of Venezuela central bank, international reserves and be president longer

CARACAS, Aug 16, 2007 (AFP) – President Hugo Chavez late Wednesday proposed sweeping changes to Venezuela’s constitution to remove presidential term limits and consolidate his vision of “21st Century Socialism”. Addressing a National Assembly stacked with loyalists, the leftist leader offered a reform plan that would also end autonomy of the country’s central bank and put its international reserves under the president’s control.

He also called for the consolidation of the military as a new, unified fighting force that would be “patriotic and anti-imperialist” in nature.

In addition to renouncing term limits, Chavez, who was re-elected to a second six-year term in December, called for the president’s time in office to be extended to seven years. His current term ends in 2013.

The opposition has denounced his proposal as a “fascist” plan modeled after Cuba, which is a close ally of Chavez. The president rejected the opposition’s demand to create a constitutional assembly to debate amendments.

Chavez defended his constitutional reform plan, denying that he was seeking to “enthrone” himself and saying a president’s re-election was ultimately in the hands of Venezuelan voters.

“They accuse me