Friday, January 19, 2007

Hugo Chavez soon to gain power to rule by decree

Hugo Chavez is about to acquire more power through legislation under consideration by the Venezuela National Assembly. The bill would give him the power to rule by decree bypassing the congress. Chavez, was a career military officer who attempted a coup in 1992 against the Venezuelan government and was elected president of that country in 1998. President Chavez is well known for his tirades against the United States in general and, in particular, against George W. Bush.

This 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.

Mr Chavez approved 49 laws by decree during the first year of his previous term, after the assembly passed a similar "Enabling Law" in November 2000.

Now the president says an Enabling Law is a key step in what he calls an accelerating march toward socialism.

He has said he wants to see major Venezuelan power and telecoms companies come under state control.

Mr Chavez also called for an end to foreign ownership of lucrative crude oil refineries in the Orinoco region.

Critics of the president accuse him of trying to build an authoritarian regime with all institutional powers consolidated into
his own hands.

But, National Assembly President Cilia Flores said "there will always be opponents, and especially when they know that these laws will deepen the revolution".
It is interesting to not only consider the parallel drives for excutive power by the administrations of Chavez in Venezuela and Bush in the United States but also their styles of governance. Slaves of Academe summed it up best:
Hugo Chavez is considered in the West a leftist (except, ironically, by the Venezuelan left, which considers Chavez as having displaced a true left in the country), and rhetorically he fits the bill, but in practice he and George W. Bush have quite a lot in common, in terms of methodology. Both have moved aggressively to control the state and harness it to their personal politics. Both have assumed mythic proportions (in their own minds, at the very least) as saviours of the nation, have politicised and compromised civil society, both preside over deeply split electorates, and are controversial and divisive leaders who relish conflict and the grand gesture.

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