Chavez Gets Dictator Status…For 18 Months

Chavez Gets Dictator Status…For 18 Months


Rule by decree?

From the BBC:

Venezuela’s National Assembly has given initial approval to a bill granting the president the power to bypass congress and rule by decree for 18 months.

President Hugo Chavez says he wants “revolutionary laws” to enact sweeping political, economic and social changes.

He has said he wants to nationalise key sectors of the economy and scrap limits on the terms a president can serve.

Mr Chavez began his third term in office last week after a landslide election victory in December.

The bill allowing him to enact laws by decree is expected to win final approval easily in the assembly on its second reading on Tuesday.

Venezuela’s political opposition has no representation in the National Assembly since it boycotted elections in 2005.

Well hey, at least it was voted on…

  • ew01

    These reports don’t get it eactly right. I’m writing a lot about this on my site, and the important thing to keep in mind is these powers are pretty limited & past Venezuelan presidents have excercized the same authority–it’s protected in their constitution. That would be some fairly important context for the bbc to mention!

    Here’s a link to more:

  • firebrand

    Yeah, it was voted on. By a Congress packed 100% full with Chavistas. In other words, they rubber-stamp what he wants. So they did technically vote on it, but the vote was meaningless.

  • Justin Gardner

    Thanks for the link ew01. Hope you don’t mind me reprinting those points here…

    > The Venezuelan Assembly has actually only opened up hearings on the proposed law.

    > If approved, the president would be limited in what it could “decree.� Basically overseeing the functions of executive branch agencies. Pretty much the rights that U.S. presidents have always had.

    > These powers are already granted by the Venezuelan constitution. And

    > This ain’t the first time they’ve been exercised. In fact, the last president of Venezuela activated these powers too.

    Put in that context, this story is much, much different. I don’t like Chavez or his rhetoric, but that BBC story was incredibly misleading.

  • wj

    “Packed” is a bit misleading when speaking of the Venezuelan Assembly. Yes, it’s 100% Chavez supporters. But the reason for that is the opposition boycotted the last election.

    Am I the only one who can’t quite see the rationale for boycotting an election? Yes, it may be rigged. But if you don’t play, you can’t win. In fact, you abandon any chance of influencing events at all. It may be a slim chance . . . but slim is still bigger than none.

  • tuki8eblom

    I ‘ll agree to that: at least it was voted on… unlike President Bush’s assertion that he has the power to bypass laws enacted by the senate for the sake of U.S. security – as he understands it.

  • Gratis

    Thanks, ew01. The story was a lot scarier than the reality.

  • Glen Wishard

    The constitution of Venezuela was written in 1999 by a Constituent Assembly that was 95% composed of a pro-Chavez political alliance that called itself the Patriotic Axis.

    To silence any opposition to the new constitution, the Constituent Assembly set up “emergency committees” that disposed of over 150 unfriendly judges. A seven-member committee assumed all legislative powers while the constitution was being written, and the National Assembly was forbidden to meet. The new constitution would strip the National Assembly of most of its powers, including the power to appoint judges, and would give the president the power to suspend it virtually at will.

    The new constitution renamed the country to “The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” – after Simon Bolivar, of course – and is one of the longest constitutions ever written, essentially writing Chavez’s political agenda into constitutional law.

    The claim that previous presidents used these powers is false, as Chavez is the only president to have “served” under this constitution, which is his constitution. Unless you count Pedro Carmona, who ran the country for 2 whole days in April 2002.

  • Glen Wishard

    Reading deeper into the links, I see that the so-called “past Venezuelan presidents” who supposedly invoked these powers refers to President Carlos Andres Perez, in 1976! Wow, what a precedent.

    That was, as I said, was under a completely different constitution. I doubt if Chavez will claim Perez as a precedent. Chavez launched a bloody coup attempt against him in 1992, during Perez’s second term as president.

    Perez was later a senator, and Chavez may have dissolved the Venezuelan Senate just to get rid of him. Today, like so many others, Perez lives in exile.

  • http://none sid davisson

    What do they mean” gets dictator status”? He’s been getting status steadily since his election.Chavez,Bush,and Putin have all become more and more authoritarian,autocratic,and dictatorial.All have made things worse for their countries and countrymen.All are bad for their countries.All are bad for the world.