The Supra Constitutional Decree Issued By President Maduro

May 16, 2016
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Today, we have a copy of the decree issued by President Maduro to give him extraordinary powers, which now needs to be ratified by both the National Assembly and the Venezuelan Supreme Court. The Assembly will obviously not approve it and the Supreme Court will and then will likely say the Assembly does not have to approve it.

But the decree is a beauty in its Supra Constitutionality. It simply deletes and does away with significant parts of the Venezuelan Constitution, including taking away powers from the National Assembly which are in the Constitution.

Pretty, it certainly ain’t.

And in some sense it is ironic that the decree contemplates that the National Assembly has to approve it, as it is quite obvious it will not. Approving it will be emasculating the powers of the Assembly, a sort of Hara Kiri for the majority that the opposition obtained in the December vote.

Let’s look at some of the details, not before reminding you that I am far from being a lawyer and I will try to be as precise as I can, within that limitation.

I will skip most of the introduction, which argues that ever since Chávez died, there has been this conspiracy between the local “right wing”, which I assume is all of the opposition and mysterious international forces to distort the Venezuelan economy. In some sense, the decree argues that all of the opposition is part of this and thus, it needs to be neutralized and its rights limited.

Way to neutralize over half the population!

In Art. 1 the decree gives the Government the power to adopt measures to insure the population can “enjoy” its rights, to preserve internal order, to have access to goods and services and magically, to diminish the effects of natural events (a.k.a El Niño) that have affected power generation, access to food (??) and other products essential for life.

And then we come to the all powerful Art. 2., which says too much, among many:

1.- The Government can adopt measures to insure the production, distribution of goods and “combat” distortive economic conducts, like “bachaqueo”, hoarding, usury, fraudulent alteration of prices and other (undefined!) economic illegalities.

Is bachaqueo a legal term? It’s certainly not in the dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language.

2.-The adoption of “exceptional” mechanisms to supply raw materials, machinery, seeds, loans, to the agricultural and rancher sector.

3.-To guarantee, even with the intervention of the Armed Forces for the correct distribution of food and essentials.

Scary article to say the least! (What does correct mean?)

4.-The authorization by the President and the Cabinet to spend money from the Treasury and other sources of financing not contemplated in the Budget Law to optimize resources.(Read: To bypass the National Assembly and the Constitution in the process, issue debt and spend money)

5.-To approve and subscribe contracts to obtain resources without the need to have it approved by other powers (i.e.: Bypassing the National Assembly and the Constitution)

6.-To allow the direct assigning of foreign currency…for the purchase of priority goods.

Cadivi corruption on steriods?

7.-To decide to suspend the political sanctions against the authorities when these sanctions can become an obstacle…i.e. remove the power of the National Assembly to censor and remove Ministers and the Vice-President, as established in the Constitution.

8.-18.- More of the same

From which we jump to lovely Art. 4: The Finance Ministry will be able to coordinate to establish minimum and maximum limits for the incoming and outgoing of Venezuelan cash (Bs.), as well as restricting certain commercial and financial transactions, restricting such operations to the use of electronic means available in the country legally. (Corralito anyone?)

And after all this, the decree says the Supreme Court and the National Assembly will have to approve the decree…

Go figure…

But the objective is clear, parts of the Constitution are decreed void, The National Assembly is restricted in its powers, including many granted by the Constitution and an extremely powerful Government, becomes even more powerful to do what it wants.

Which as usual, it will do ineffectively…


52 Responses to “The Supra Constitutional Decree Issued By President Maduro”

  1. M Rubio Says:

    Hey Robbie, that’s an odd axe you’re grinding there.I’m thinking you’re just feeling guilty that dear old mom’s hands are filthy dirty and that she has no morals. Afterall, what’s she pay for electricity, $1.00 a month, nothing? Does she pay world prices for gasoline for her car, or if she doesn’t own one, does she take advantage of public transport that runs on basically free gasoline? Is mom complicit when she pays black market rates for products that are still far below world prices? How about income taxes? Mom pay a ton of personal income taxes over the years?

    I’ve still got the cesta sitting here on my table. Pay me a visit and you can leave with it shoved up your Maduro.

    • Robbie Says:

      I would love to collect, thanks for that. And your address is ?

      • M Rubio Says:

        Ask Miguel for my email addy. With this post he has my permission to give it to you. With that I’ll be happy to tell you exactly where to find me.

  2. Robbie Says:

    Mother-in-law had the same food delivery offer you describe. Seems to be two prices, the more affluent area the higher, in fact much higher price.
    She told them to piss off. Her moral standards are not for sale, unlike yours

    • M Rubio Says:

      Piss off, Robbie. I bought the basket to see exactly what the government was offering for the 2.000 bs. And btw, I forgot, included was a one liter bottle of cooking oil as well.

      • Robbie Says:

        Of course, no other way to determine that which would be in the basket. My sincere apologies.
        And in whose pockets did you deposit the Bs 2000 ?
        Raspa cupos, Cadivi and so on to you, no doubt.
        Everyone has dirty hands, oh dear me.

        • Dr. Faustus Says:

          What in God’s name is the purpose of you attacking a fellow poster? You have higher morals?

        • Ira Says:

          Robbie, how new are you here?

          Because you’re obviously not new at being stupid everywhere.

          You owe him an ENORMOUS apology, because you’re totally wrong. He bought this for shits and giggles (see prior posts), and wasn’t trying to rip off the system. But now that I think about, ISN’T this the system?

          I also think you’re full of shit when you say your mother-in-law “passed” on a bargain, let alone getting these rare foodstuffs in the first place.

          Did you have to post that in order to get laid?

          • Robbie Says:

            Touched a raw nerve methinks. Problem is your all complicit, accept it and then move on.
            And you are right, it is the system, one which was contributed to and supported by ALL.
            Ps I have no doubt the Bs2000 “freebie” was not returned to sender. Enjoy.

      • Roger Says:

        We need to know what is going on at barrio level. That’s where the change will come. They are still buying as much support as the can? Surprised it did not include a new red tee shirt and an invite to a rally. Just be careful comrade!

        • M Rubio Says:

          Agreed. And while I don’t live at the barrio level, this pueblo is very humble… bank, no gas station, no wáter LOL. It was once surrounded by agriculture, and there still is some activity, but I’d like to believe my experiences bring something to this forum’s table.

          I also have the advantage of operating one of the more popular bodegas in the pueblo so I speak to a lot of locals and overhear a lot of conversations.

          Most of those conversations today are: THIS GOVERNEMENT IS INCOMPETENT and THERE IS NOTHING TO EAT.

          The Chavistas are pretty mum these days so, as I said, I was intrigued by the “cesta” offer. What exactly would it contain, what quality, and would it be delivered on time….if at all. Sorry I offended Robbie’s high moral standards.

          Maduro seems to be on something of a charm campaign these days, not only with the food deliver scheme, but giving us heathens in the boonies a bit more electricity. We were seeing daily black outs of 4 hours. While we had a 4 hour blackout yesterday, for the 3 previous days it was only one hour. He claims there will be no further blackouts during sleeping hours.

          Time will tell. I hope my experiences here bring something to this forum’s table. I feel like I’m reporting from behind enemy lines sometimes.

  3. M Rubio Says:

    My “cesta” arrived today: 2 kilos of rice, 1 kilo of powdered milk, 2 kilos of harina pan, 1 kilo of spaghetti, 2 kilos of black beans, 2 small fruit drinks and a kilo of dishwashing detergent.

    Again, I paid 2,000 bs and it showed up at my door. The best I can figure for a black market value (tough because most of this stuff is rarely seen even on the black market) is a value of at least 14,000 bs.

    So in addition to outright theft of public treasure, the government is selling products at a fraction of their street value. Lord only knows what it actually cost them to buy the products.

  4. M Rubio Says:

    A couple of updates from the East:

    My daughter-in-law just phoned to say that she and several co-workers who work in the Human Rights department of the State of Monagas were sent today to monitor a planned “food sale” by Uni-Casa in the Centro Comercial La Cascada just south of Maturín.

    When they arrived they couldn’t believe the size of the crowd and the closer they got to the front doors, the madder the people crowded together were. They finally backed off and called the boss who told them to get out of there, that she would call the National Guard to monitor what was going on.

    Food sales. This is where we are today. I keep thinking it’ll reach a tipping point but it never does. It’s depressing and bizarre.

    Then several days ago I had a young lady came by the bodega telling me that I could buy a basket of goods, rice, harina pan, pasta, other stuff, from PDVAL for 2,000 bs. I thanked her but told her I couldn’t stand in line for hours to take advantage of such a good offer. She replied, “oh no, pay for the basket today and on Friday I’ll deliver it here”. I was intrigued, and since I know her to work for PDVAL, I paid her to see if it comes to pass.

    Then, later that night, I see something somewhere on the internet that Maduro has instituted a new plan to deliver food directly to homeownwers. Is this where they’re headed? Don’t leave your house, we’ll deliver your food to your door? The ulitmate in gubmint dependence.

    • .5mt Says:

      A deal is a deal, but, hmmm,, be careful.

    • Daveed Says:

      I heard about that kind of delivery scheme about two months ago near Barquisimeto, as I recall. However, recipients were required to sign a petition to get Obama to remove the “sanctions against Venezuela”.

      • M Rubio Says:

        I wasn’t asked to sign anything. Fortunately, I take care of my own food needs and am not hungry right now as my “basket” is yet to arrive. LOL

  5. Diocletian Says:

    An editorial in the Washington Post (MO: Please let me know if there is value in sending these articles and opinion pieces).

    By Matt O’Brien
    May 19 2016

    Venezuela has become a failed state.

    According to the International Monetary Fund’s latest projections, it has the world’s worst economic growth, worst inflation and ninth-worst unemployment rate right now. It also has the second-worst murder rate, and an infant mortality rate that’s gotten 100 times worse itself the past four years. And in case all that wasn’t bad enough, its currency, going by black market rates, has lost 99 percent of its value since the start of 2012. It’s what you call a complete social and economic collapse. And it has happened despite the fact that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves.

    Never has a country that should have been so rich been so poor.

    There’s no mystery here. Venezuela’s government is to blame. Sure, $50-a-barrel oil hasn’t helped, but it hasn’t hurt so much that a “Mad Max”-style dystopia was inevitable. After all, every other country whose economy begins and ends at its oil wells has at least managed to avoid that fate. Which is to say that Venezuela is a man-made disaster. It’s a gangster state that doesn’t know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself. Indeed, two of President Nicolás Maduro’s nephews were arrested on charges of conspiring to bring 800 kilos of cocaine into the United States, the president’s right-hand man is suspected of running a drug ring himself, and public money has a habit of disappearing into what could only be private pockets. Two ex-officials estimate that as much as $300 billion has been misappropriated the past decade. It’s enough that Transparency International ranks Venezuela as the ninth-most corrupt country in the world. The only ones worse — Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan, Angola, Libya and Iraq — are a collection of rogue and war-torn nations.

    Venezuela is the answer to what would happen if an economically illiterate drug cartel took over a country.

    This corruption hasn’t just enriched the few. It has also impoverished the many. That’s because the government has tried to control the economy to the point of killing it — all, of course, in the name of “socialism.” Now let’s back up a minute. It really shouldn’t have been hard for Venezuela’s government to spend some petrodollars on the poor without destroying its economy. All it had to do was send people a check for their share of the country’s oil money. Even Alaska does that. And, to be fair, Venezuela was able to do so as well, as long as oil prices were in the triple digits. That’s how its government cut poverty almost 30 percent its first 12 years in power.

    You can’t keep redistributing oil profits, though, if there aren’t any more oil profits to redistribute. Or at least not that many of them — which there aren’t now. The first reason for that is that former president Hugo Chávez replaced people who knew what they were doing with people he knew would be loyal to him at the state-owned oil company. The regime’s cronies were happy to take money out of the company, but not so much about putting what they needed back in so that they’d continue to be able to turn their extra-heavy crude into refined oil. As a result, production fell 25 percent between 1999 and 2013. And the second reason has just been that oil prices have fallen in half the past two years. Add those two together — selling less oil for less than before — and you have an economic death sentence for a country that doesn’t have an economy so much as an oil-exporting business that subsidizes everything else.

    But Venezuela has gotten something worse than death. It has gotten hell. Its stores are empty, its hospitals don’t have essential medicines, and it can’t afford to keep the lights on. All the progress it had made fighting poverty has been reversed, and then some. The police are going after protesters, and vigilantes are going after petty criminals by, for example, burning a 42-year-old father alive for stealing $5. How has it come to this? Well, the underlying cause is that the government hasn’t been content to just control the oil business. It wants to control every business. It tells them how much to charge, who’s allowed to charge it, and even who’s allowed to line up for it. Because that’s the one thing Venezuela is well-supplied with now: hours and hours of lines.

    Here’s how it works — or doesn’t, rather. Venezuela’s government, you see, has tried to stop the runaway inflation that’s resulted from all its money-printing by forcing companies to sell for lower prices than they want. The problem there, though, is that businesses won’t sell things for less than they cost. They’ll just leave their shelves unstocked instead. So to make up for that, the government has subsidized a select few by selling them dollars at well, well below market rates. Consider this: The Venezuelan bolivar is trading for 1,075 per dollar on the black market right now, but 6.3 per dollar at the government’s most preferential rate. (It has two others.)

    That’s like paying $1 to get $170. Now, the idea is that giving companies money like this will let them make money — giving them a reason to fill their stores — even when they sell at the prices they’re supposed to. But that’s not how it has always worked out. Think about it like this. You could either use the $169 the government has given you to buy, say, milk for $3 overseas that you’re only allowed to sell for $2 at home, or you could just sell it for $169 in the black market right away. In the first case, you’d make about $112; in the second, well, $169. So it’s not profitable for unsubsidized companies to stock their shelves, but it’s not profitable enough for subsidized ones to do so when they can just sell their dollars for more than they can resell imports. That’s why Venezuela has had shortages of basic goods — everything from food to beer to toilet paper and especially medical supplies — even before oil prices fell so far.

    Why doesn’t the government just get rid of this exchange-rate system then? Because as difficult as it is to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it, it’s even more so when their embezzling depends on it. In other words, having the power to decide who gets dollars and who doesn’t means that you have them yourself, and can skim a little — or $300 billion — off the top if you’re so inclined. And the Chavistas have been. It’s true that this isn’t exactly smart politics or economics in the long run, but in the long run they’ll have moved their money into Swiss bank accounts and Miami condos. In the meantime, though, there’s a country to loot.

    • moctavio Says:

      Certainly, a link will suffice if the paper has no subscription. We always welcome these articles so that people know about them. Thanks

    • Ira Says:

      What an incredibly well-written, insightful article.

      Thank you for posting it!

      Seriously, this writer cut through all of the bullshit and EXPLAINED all of the bullshit, with brevity and crystal clear clarity,

  6. Florian Geyer Says:

    So this is it? You Venezuelans just give up you country to communism? Barely any protests? No real blood and iron resistance? Just pacifism in the face of dictatorship?

    • M Rubio Says:

      That’s certainly what it’s looking like.

      • Alexis Says:

        I partly blame the religious culture for this. I have met too many Venezuelans who believe that, if they just ask hard enough, their imaginary friend in the sky will come and resolve everything.

        Some people still haven’t learned they need to face their problems to resolve them.

        • Pissed Says:

          From a discussion that was the last straw with a fellow Vennie:
          Me: “Why do you do such stupid shit that is destructive to all involved?”
          Him: “Tu no entiendes….Es que el destino…”

  7. Lee Kuan Yew Says:

    The AN is largely corrupted already by now, bribed with Chavista PDVSA dollars.

    Or in what country do you think they are? Remember Ad/Copey, 4 decades? This is even worse. Kleptozuela is a system of mass theft. Everywhere, at all levels, include whatever’s left of the private industry, including the “pueblo” people.

    Obviously the criminal regime is intent on staying in power for the 3 reasons: risk of jail time, risk of losing their stolen millions and properties, risk of having to leave the country and getting new identities. When you can’t even speak English, that’s a tough prospect, escaping with your entire family overseas.

    But they use the proven boiling frog system. They tighten the totalitarian screws gradually, over the years, so “el pueblo” doesn’t notice that much. Now they are up to the final stages of a full-blown dictatorship, with the Military, the TSJ, the police, and much of the “pueblo” as accomplices. Why? $$$$$$.

  8. Diocletian Says:

    I have been surprised by some the (previous) criticism of the National Assembly and its leadership in this blog. Of course, it could have been better. But I don’t think that was ever the point. The “first article” made it pretty clear that the National Assembly was never going to have any power. This decree just provides the regulation for how this will become operational.

    The main purpose of the National Assembly was (always) to prove the point to the national and international community that the government is illegitimate. Nothing more.

    • moctavio Says:

      I disagree. The AN is an independent power and as such it has not even attempted to have its autonomy respected. Not only that, but it could have been more aggressive in calling Ministers to testify and censoring them afterwards, as well as asking for Maduro’s papers. Did you know that Minister of Alimentacion Marco Torres is no longer signing anything? Why? Because since he was censored, somewhat later could argue that his act was illegal. Why didn’t they censor more Ministers?

      The international community will never come and “save” Venezuela. I said it in 2003 when Carter and Gaviria came and say it again. Either we do it ourselves or get ready for many, many more years of Chavismo, Maduro or not.

      • Diocletian Says:

        Thanks. Obviously you know Venezuela better than I ever will! However, from what I have seen in other countries (far too often) is that this symbolism is very important, as a way to signal that democracy is not totally dead (think Burma, Iran, even Uganda). The fact that Torres remains in office and issues the decrees without signing them suggest symbolism to me. Perhaps a better national assembly would have created more symbolic gestures like blocking the budget (for a day?) or kicking out more ministers (who would continue in office). But this is nothing compared to the symbolism of getting elected and having both the national and international community seeing them being crushed without shame.

        As for the international community, yes in the end it will fall on Venezuelans to overthrow this band of thugs. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t. No doubt. However…the international community has played a major in many cases– ranging from South Africa, Honduras, Haiti, and many others.

        Are they the same as Venezuela? Of course not. But Venezuela is no longer a major oil producing country and it cannot hold oil over the head of the world economy (heck, the world was largely able to embargo Iran which was a major oil producer). As Colombia is flooded with refugees, pressure will increase to do something…

        As Lee Kuan Yew often says, I am not optimistic.

    • TV Says:

      Unfortunately this isn’t the first time something like this happened. DRC and Zimbabwe went through their separate episodes much like this time. There’s one debacle much like this one every decade or so, and Venezuelan number came up, apparently.

      The sad thing is that any solution for the crisis will make many things even worse in the medium term. Somali scenario of a failed state would not surprise.

  9. […] The Supra Constitutional Decree Issued by President Maduro, Miguel Octavio, The Devil’s Excrement […]

  10. Vitor Says:

    Nobody mentions this…but given how much shit has been thrown in the fan, isn’t Venezuela somewhat close to a civil war? I’ve seen conflicts start for much less than what venezuelans are suffering.

    • A civil war requires two or more relatively well armed factions manned by individuals willing to die. I don’t think this condition is met.

      Many readers fail to grasp how comprehensive and sophisticated is the security apparatus set up by the. Cuban G2, the Belarus KGB, and Iranian MOIS to back up the SEBIN.

      Thus resistance by violent means, if it emerges, will likely function more like the IRA or ETA – it would be counterproductive.

      The only viable strategy is a national strike which shuts down everything, including oil production. That may convince Padrino López to switch sides. But I don’t see much hope unless Venezuelans grasp the fact that they have to accept Cuban interference in their internal affairs, and point out they are in the process of being colonized by the Cuban dictatorship, who relies on its not so stealthy presence and the cooperation of a few traitors to impose a military dictatorship with hybrid communist/fascist policies.

      If we look back over the last 18 months, Obama’s implicit legitimization of the Castro dictatorship, the obscene European dash to make business deals with Castro, and the Pope’s cozying up to the radical left are what convinced Raúl and the chavista elite that a dictatorship could be imposed and nothing really would happen.

      Since I’m opposed to violence resistance, because I don’t think it will work, and non violent approaches do require some outside pressure applied ON CUBA and ON MADURO, I see the situation as nearly hopeless for Venezuela.

      • M Rubio Says:

        Agreed. We’re done. We’re almost half way through the year and the referéndum is now spinning its wheels. A massive shutdown of the country is about the only thing that might bring about change but I don’t think they have it in ’em.

        On the outside, no one cares.

      • Vitor Says:

        But couldn’t some rogue general or colonel gather 10 or 20k troops and start a guerrilla?

  11. Setty Says:

    How is Article 69 holding up?

  12. captainccs Says:

    On account of the shortage of toilette paper, the government has found a new use for the constitution.

    With Chavismo falling apart and the decree of Emergencia Cómica giving new powers to the military, maybe they will take over… From the frying pan into the fire?

    Today I was running errands in Chacao. If you have the money they are pretty well stocked. Some stores abide by the rationing imposed by the revolution. Others could care less. I don’t see how the government can put into practice the kind of controls this stupid decree talks about. It would need a much more complex bureaucracy than it has at its disposal.

    BTW, no one I met on the street seemed to have the slightest inkling that any of this is happening. Maybe only politicians care.

    • Roger Says:

      At this point people only believe what they see at the market!

    • eddie b Says:

      Venezuelans have been reduced to a bizarre sort of survival mode. That explains the not knowing and not caring about this. The government is actually correct about an economic war, but they are the ones who created it. I actually believe that what’s going on in Venezuela right now is planned and intentional. These people are being mentored by Raul Castro. In Cuba, a similar situation was allowed to unfold after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The logic is simple. If people are forced to spend all of their time looking for food and medicine, they will be too busy and too tired to pose any type of threat or challenge to the regime. This is a diabolical plan to literally starve people into submission.

  13. Mike Says:

    its like a bad end of civilization movie

  14. Ira Says:

    What specifically affects the recall referendum?

    Head of OAS recently stated that if it’s not allowed to go through, it would be and outrageous act of pure political corruption.

    • moctavio Says:

      Art. 6 talks about maintaining the peace and and order to guarantee sovereignty, respecting human rights.

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