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Full powers for Venezuelan president Chavez for the next 18 months

Monday, December 20th 2010 - 18:40 UTC
Full article 6 comments
President Chavez takes full advantage of the down pouring and floods President Chavez takes full advantage of the down pouring and floods

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was granted decree powers to pass laws without congressional authorization for the next 18 months, after pro- government lawmakers extended the period from the originally proposed 12 months at the last minute. This means he will have special powers until six months before the next presidential election in 2012 when he anticipated he expects to run.

Chavez says he needs the enabling law to fast-track legislation and raise funding for relief efforts after heavy rains killed 45 people and left over 150,000 in government shelters. His opponents say he’s using the rains as an excuse to weaken the new congress after losing his two-thirds majority in September. The new lawmakers take office Jan. 5.-

“People displaced by the rains are wondering what will happen to them after a year, so we propose that we extend the decree powers to 18 months,” Cilia Flores, head of the National Assembly and a lawmaker from Chavez’s United Socialist Party said on the official ANTV. “The displaced asked us to modify the time period.”

Chavez, who has ruled by decree three previous times during his nearly 12 years in office, will raise the value-added tax to finance plans to build homes for the displaced by rains and to help farmers whose crops were destroyed. The damage from the flooding may reach 10 billion US dollars he said last week.

The government already has a group of 20 laws ready to be passed by decree, Chavez announced during a visit to a future housing project next to the Maiquetia international airport outside of Caracas.

The National Assembly, which currently consists of about 95% of pro-Chavez legislators, authorized Chavez to pass laws in infrastructure, housing, finance and taxes, defence, international cooperation and the nation’s socio-economic system.

Chavez suffered his biggest electoral defeat in congressional elections September 26 and with it the necessary votes to pass the national budget, new laws, and obtain decree powers without consulting the opposition. He lost the overall popular vote, despite winning a majority of seats due to gerrymandering of voting districts.

The last time the former paratrooper president ruled by decree during 18 months, he passed 26 laws on the last day including tighter regulation over the banking sector and severe fines for companies deemed to be hoarding food goods.

In addition to laws that Chavez will pass through the decree powers, the assembly is pushing through a series of laws before the period ends in telecommunications, banking, Internet regulation, non-governmental organization funding and political parties.

The banking law declares the industry of “public utility,” making it easier for the government to nationalize institutions, and forces the banks to funnel 5% of profits to a social fund.

“If Chavez becomes the only branch of government that can legislate, then he is declaring himself ‘dictator’” according to congressional opposition member Delsa Solórzano.

The opposition is considering appealing the special powers since “the awarded delegation (of rule) can’t survive who ever delegates, particularly a legislative branch that is about to come to an end of its constitutional mandate”, argues Fernando Egaña, a Venezuelan political scientist.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • ed

    I must say that Caracas's Teleferic Transportation System is extraordinary!

    Dec 20th, 2010 - 07:34 pm 0
  • fredbdc

    Are people still calling this a democracy or have we given up the pretense and just started calling that pig for what he really is.... a dictator?

    So much for Mercosur strengthening democracy, are they going to kick out Venezuela 1 day after their admission? Gosh what a bunch of dopes.

    Dec 20th, 2010 - 09:37 pm 0
  • Beef

    ........and another dictatorship emerges.

    Dec 20th, 2010 - 09:38 pm 0
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