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…
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…