​Venezuela’s Maduro gets decree rule powers to confront ‘US imperialism’

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.(Reuters / Jorge Silva)
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has been granted the right to rule by decree till the end of the year to defend the country’s integrity and sovereignty against “imperialist threats” from the US government.

The so-called “Anti-Imperialist Enabling Law for Peace,” passed by the National Assembly over the weekend came into force on Monday. The new legislature empowers Maduro with tools to circumvent Congress in issuing security and defense legislation until the end of 2015.

The power granted by parliament is designed to defend “integrity…[and] sovereignty, in the face of any circumstances that could arise with this imperialist aggression.”

“The president is within his rights to preserve the peace of the Republic,” declared the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, adding that the law would allow Maduro to have the “tools at hand, both legal and constitutional, in order to defend the homeland whenever necessary.”

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The enabling laws allowing the president to rule by decree in situations that require immediate action were first written into Venezuela’s constitution back in 1961. President Maduro already made use of the laws in 2013 to“fight corruption, usury, money laundering and the economic war unleashed in recent times against the country by the national oligarchy.”

However, opposition lawmakers have already accused Maduro of exploiting diplomatic tensions with Washington to solidify presidential powers that could be used to justify repression and distract the country from economic hardships.

“This new enabling law won’t equip hospitals, won’t open the 44 percent of operating rooms that are closed,” Henrique Capriles, an opposition figure, wrote in his blog. “It also won’t increase production, or give incentives for investment, or beat back inflation.”

As a first step to battle Washington’s influence in the South American country which has been at odds with US for years, Maduro said he has written a letter denouncing what he called the latest US aggression and intervention in Venezuela. Last week Washington labeled Caracas a “national security threat” and implemented sanctions against seven of its officials.

“I have a letter ready for the people of the United States and President Obama telling them the truths of Venezuela, denouncing the aggression of the decree that he signed, demanding in the moral name of the people of [18-19th century Venezuelan military leader Simon] Bolivar that Barack Obama repeals the presidential decree that threatens our country,”Maduro said after the congress adopted the bill.

The latest US move against Venezuela saw a number of sanctions against Venezuelan officials who were accused of human rights abuses. Most of the countries in the region have agreed on interpreting the move as an act of interference and aggression.

On Saturday, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), urged Washington to retract the executive order, highlighting that it threatens Venezuela’s sovereignty. Bolivian President Evo Morales even said Washington needed to apologize and “abandon its interventionist practices.”

Meanwhile Maduro announced that the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) will meet in Caracas on Tuesday to form a common front against the US at the Summit of the Americas, which will be held next month in Panama.