Skip to comments.Chavez set to receive decree powers in Venezuela
Posted on 01/30/2007 6:44:24 PM PST by NormsRevenge
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's Congress delayed by a day on Tuesday its vote to give President Hugo Chavez decree powers enabling him to nationalize oil and utility assets and press his drive to turn Venezuela into a socialist state.
Congress, which has no opposition lawmakers due to a boycott of elections in 2005, had been set to approve the measure on Tuesday but postponed action until Wednesday to hold an unusual open-air voting session in Caracas's central square -- increasing public exposure.
If passed as expected, the vote will empower Chavez for 18 months to issue decrees expected to overhaul the OPEC nation's economic landscape by imposing state controls over such sectors as energy, mining and banking.
Condemned by the opposition as an abuse of power by a dictator-in-the making, the powers would consolidate the anti-U.S. leader's control over Venezuela after he won a landslide re-election last month.
The move is part of a strategy to centralize power around Chavez, who is closely allied with communist Cuba. He has vowed to use his mandate to strip the central bank of its autonomy, eliminate presidential term limits and form a single party from the dozens of groups supporting him.
"This 'Enabling Law' transforms the president of the republic of Venezuela into an emperor -- Emperor Chavez," said Teodoro Petkoff, a leader of an often-divided opposition that has failed to stop the president amassing power.
Previous presidents won such powers to steer Venezuela through financial turmoil. Despite an economic boom, Chavez says he needs the approval to accelerate a "socialist revolution" he began when he first took office in 1999.
AS MANY AS 60 DECREES
Aides predict he could implement up to 60 measures through decrees.
He plans to take a majority stake in multibillion-dollar oil projects run by some of the world's biggest companies and nationalize the country's flagship telecommunications and electricity companies.
Chavez has also pledged to change the constitution to redraw electoral districts' in a nation of Andean mountains, Caribbean islands and Amazon jungle, and to fire provincial authorities. The opposition says these moves will emasculate regional leaders.
With the president increasingly in control of institutions, there has been little debate among lawmakers about granting the powers.
In 2001 he won similar temporary powers, which allowed him to issue decrees boosting state control over oil fields and increased presidential power to confiscate land deemed idle.
But the approval took months of political wrangling and became a lightning rod for many Venezuelans' anger that prompted large street protests.
Earlier this month, the opposition mustered barely a few hundred demonstrators to protest the planned powers.
Chavez revealed few details of his plans during the election campaign. He says his plan is inspired by communists such as Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, and South America's 19th century anti-colonialist hero Simon Bolivar.
Chavez calls Cuban President Fidel Castro his father and declared himself a communist when he took office this month for a new six-year term, but denies he wants to turn the nation of avid consumers into another Cuba.
Wildly popular among the majority poor for spending an oil bonanza on schools and clinics in city slums and rural villages, it is unclear how much of a mandate Chavez won at the polls for his power grabs. He revealed few details of his economic plan during the election campaign.
The Caracas stock exchange has lost more than a quarter of its value since Chavez announced his nationalization bombshell this month and hard-currency dollars cost twice as much as before on the black market.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez gestures during a ceremony where he was decorated with the Tiradentes medal in Rio de Janeiro, January 19, 2007. Chavez was set to win powers on Tuesday to rule by decree for 18 months so that he can nationalize oil and utility assets and press his drive to turn Venezuela into a socialist state. (Jamil Bittar/Reuters)
LOL, do they really think after 18 months, Hugo is just going to say, "ok I'm done."
Not a great move by the opposition.
They will be lucky to regain power in this decade.
If oil prices go down he is going to need the power to save himself.
It's going to get worse before it gets better.
Let me guess, there was a thinking that people stay at home and not vote things will be ok???
Sounds familiar doesn't it???
Heh... as if. They'll be lucky to survive the next year.
Yes..... Having a hissy fit have consequences.. What was that saying in Star Wars III about freedom..
Depending on how our congress act, the next great immigration wave will either be coming from Venezula or Iraq.
Pineappleface goes whole hog. "President" for life.
People better get out of Venezuela while they still can.
People better get out of Venezuela while they still can.
Could we please put this in "Breaking News"?
That means more Venezulan resturants... Whenever a nation falls to commuism there seems to be a new type of resturaunt..
you have a point Ramius. Hugo will stamp out all opposition. Wonder what Jimmy thinks about them elections now?
Maybe we can trade a few people, we can give them Cindy and all the leftist who are supporting him, and we will take some of their folks.
Wealthy Vennies are already making their way into Florida. As usual, the US will gain wealth and intellect because of some bonehead in South America.
I kind of wish they would stay and fight for their country.
What's to fight for? The population made their choice. The smart one's will get out and make a killing in the States.
Congress, which has no opposition lawmakers due to a boycott of elections in 2005
When will the Liberal Socialist Whacko Democrats wake up? The Home Team is going to have one hell of a game coming up.First we have to dump the whackos.
Fascisti. Muerta por los todos!
Fascisti para siempre!
All the more reason to get rid of oil as one of our primary energy sources. Our dependency of it is one of our biggest national security risks. It's something we as a nation has to have, and too many countries that have much of are against us in every way.
We need to end this situation, somehow.
Can someone please post that fun picture of Cindy Sheehan and Hugo Chavez? Or the Harry Belafonte picture with Chavez?
I know someone knows how to do that!
We should have greaed this pig when we had the chance.
Shades of Hilliary Clinton...
I wonder if he will start requiring his peons to say "Heil Chavez" and give an upraised salute when he gives speeches?