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The open cabildo was a special mode of assembly of the inhabitants of Latin American cities during the Spanish colonial period, in cases of emergencies or disasters. Usually, the colonial cities were governed by a cabildo or an ayuntamiento, a municipal council in which most of the officers were appointed by the authorities. In cases of emergency, the cabildo could convene the heads of household (vecinos) in an "open" cabildo.
At the beginning of the Spanish American wars of independence open cabildos played a decisive revolutionary role, acting as organs of popular participation, as they were able to remove the colonial authorities and establish new autonomous governments.
In modern times, some Latin American countries have used the name "open cabildos" for public assemblies convened by municipal governments to decide local matters of public importance. The term is sometimes used for present-day public meetings to make decisions. The modern versions, while using the historically evocative name, can be more similar to an outdoor rally.
In Venezuela, the open cabildo is one part of a set of provisions required to preserve democracy. Article 70 of the nation's Constitution says that "there [must be] methods for the people to exercise their sovereignty in politics [including] the open forum and assembly of citizens whose decisions will be binding". Because the legally binding vote is tied to the open cabildo, the Constitution may be interpreted to say that the forum can still have the power of a political referendum.
- "Cabildo Abierto | Participedia". participedia.net. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
- "Cabildo | local government". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
- "CONSTITUCIÓN DE LA REPÚBLICA BOLIVARIANA DE VENEZUELA, 1999" [1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; p. Chapter IV|On the Political Rights and on Popular Referendum|First Section: on the Political Rights] (PDF). p. Capítulo IV|De los Derechos Políticos y del Referendo Popular|Sección Primera: de los Derechos Políticos. Retrieved 11 January 2019.