Thursday, February 01, 2007


Hugo Chavez "ruling by decree"

There has been quite a bit of coverage in the media about the Venezuelan legislature granting Hugo Chavez the power to "rule by decree" (for 18 months). But you would be hard-pressed indeed to know exactly what this was all about, since most coverage (like The New York Times) provides next to no details on exactly what this means. AP actually did provide some detail, but nowhere have I found as much about what this really is all about as in this article by Gregory Wilpert at Venezuelanalysis.com. Here's some of what we learn:
This is the third time Chavez has received such authorization during his presidency and Chavez is the fifth Venezuelan president to take advantage of this power, which both the 1961 and the 1999 constitutions permit.
Surprised? I'll bet you didn't hear that on CNN. Here's more:
The eleven areas where Chavez will be allowed to pass laws for the next 18 months are:

1. Transformation of the state, where laws are to be passed that make the state more efficient, honest, participatory, rational, and transparent.
2. Popular (grassroots) participation, in the economic and social policies of the state, via planning, social comptrol, and the direct exercise of popular sovereignty.
3. Essential values for the exercise of public functions, so that corruption would be eradicated definitively, the strengthening of ethics, and the formation of public servants.
4. In the area of economic and social policy, so as to create a new sustainable economic and social model. The goal is to achieve equality and the equitable distribution of wealth through investment in health care, education, and social security.
5. Finances and taxation, to modernize the regulatory system in the monetary, banking, insurance, and tax systems.
6. Citizen and judicial security, for the improvement of citizen identification, migration control, and the fight against impunity.
7. Science and technology, so it is developed to satisfy the needs of education, health, environment, biodiversity, industrialization, quality of life, security, and defense.
8. Territorial order, for a new distribution and occupation of subnational space, so as to improve the activities of the state and of endogenous development.
9. Security and defense, for the development of the structure and organization of the Armed Forces.
10. Infrastructure, transport, and services, to promote the existing human and industrial potential for the optimization of land, rail, sea, river, and air transportation, as well as of telecommunications and information technology.
11. Energy sector, so that oil production in the Orinoco Oil Belt may be nationalized and turned into joint ventures, tax rates changed, and electricity companies nationalized, among other things.
Remarkably, even a top U.S. diplomat recognizes the reality of the situation:
The top U.S. diplomat for Latin America, Thomas Shannon, said the enabling law isn't anything new in Venezuela.

"It's something valid under the constitution," said Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, told reporters in Colombia. "As with any tool of democracy, it depends how it is used," he added. "At the end of the day, it's not a question for the United States or for other countries, but for Venezuela."
Where'd he come from? Jeez, what a concept!

Update: An interesting article on the subject from a Canadian academic who has been based in Venezuela for some time now, entitled "Why Aren't You in a Hurry, Comrade?," discussing the question of democracy as process vs. democracy in practice.

Why stop here? There's more...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com High Class Blogs: News and Media