Friday, December 17, 2010
The Adolf Hitler of South America Has Arrived - Venezuela Congress Grants Chavez Decree Powers
Borrowed from The Associated Press - Thank you
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan lawmakers granted President Hugo Chavez broad powers Friday to enact laws by decree, undermining the clout of a new congress that takes office next month with a bigger opposition bloc.
Chavez opponents condemned the move as a power grab, saying the law gives him a blank check to rule without consulting lawmakers. The National Assembly approved the special powers for 18 months.
A new congress goes into session Jan. 5 with an opposition contingent large enough to hinder approval of some types of major laws.
Chavez has argued he needs decree powers to fast-track funds to help the victims of recent floods and landslides, and also to hasten Venezuela's transition to a socialist state.
The president's critics view the law as one of many controversial measures being pushed through in the final weeks of a lame-duck congress.
Another measure under discussion Friday was the revised "Social Responsibility Law," which would impose broadcast-type regulations on the Internet and ban online messages "that could incite or promote hatred," create "anxiety" in the population or "disrespect public authorities."
Questions remain about how the Internet regulations would be enforced.
"They're accusing me of being a dictator," Chavez said on state television Thursday night, dismissing the criticism as unfounded. "We're building a new democracy here that can't be turned back."
The law to grant Chavez decree powers, the fourth such legislation of his nearly 12-year presidency, also will allow him to unilaterally enact measures involving telecommunications, the banking system, information technology, the military, rural and urban land use and the country's "socio-economic system."
Among the planned decrees already announced, Chavez intends to increase the value-added tax, now 12 percent, to raise funds for coping with the disaster caused by weeks of heavy rains. The government is erecting tents to house thousands left homeless and is accelerating public housing construction.
Critics accuse Chavez of taking advantage of the disaster to tighten his grip on power, saying he is violating the constitution while trying to impose a Cuba-style system.
Lawmaker Pastora Medina, a former Chavez ally who turned against him, condemned the decree powers saying the president already "has the budget and the resources to solve the problems."