Chavez’s decree move enrages Venezuela opposition

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuelan President moved yesterday to bypass parliament and rule by decree  for a year in South America’s biggest oil producer, prompting  opposition accusations of behaving like a dictator.

Hugo Chavez

The socialist leader has used such powers three times  before during his 11 years in power, and says he needs them  again to deal with a national emergency caused by floods that  have killed about 40 people and left almost 140,000 homeless.

The head of parliament said the “Enabling Law” that would  let Chavez govern by decree would be approved by tomorrow. The  text of the law allows him to issue decrees across a wide range  of areas including housing, land, finances and security.

Private banks and property owners are bracing themselves  for another wave of nationalizations by the former paratrooper,  who has taken Venezuela down a steadily more radical route in  an effort to entrench “21st century socialism.” “He is winning time with the tragedy to put limits on the  new National Assembly,” opposition politician Pastora Medina  told Reuters. “He is consolidating himself as a dictator.”

A freshly united opposition coalition won about half the  popular vote at a parliamentary election in September to take  40 percent of seats in a new Assembly that will convene on Jan.  5, when they had hoped to put a check on Chavez’s power.

“It is a brutal attack, without anesthetics, against  democratic life,” said Teodoro Petkoff, editor of leading  opposition newspaper Tal Cual. His paper denounced the decree  move, along with a package of laws being rushed through, as a  “totalitarian ambush … a Christmas ambush” for Venezuelans.

Seeking to outflank his rivals — and with an eye on the  next presidential vote in 2012 — Chavez asked the outgoing  parliament yesterday to grant him fast-track decree powers for  12 months. It is dominated by members of his ruling Socialist  Party and is sure to approve the request. Chavez had said on  Monday the powers could extend for up to 18 months.

Wall Street took the development in stride.

“This news is not completely surprising and the market is  reflecting that,” Bret Rosen at Standard Chartered told  Reuters, saying the balance-of-power implications were more  worrisome than the anticipated fast-track fiscal measures
.
Venezuela’s benchmark global 9.25 percent 2027 paper, one  of the world’s most-traded emerging market bonds, rose 0.562  points to bid 74.500 on Tuesday.

CHAVEZ
HIKE SALES TAX

Chavez’s latest power play raises concern about whether he  would accept defeat if the 2012 election does not go his way.  Polls show his traditionally high ratings have slipped, with  the nation divided down the middle in the September elections.

Outside parliament, several dozen opposition demonstrators  protested against the measure, while supporters of the  president rode past on motorbikes shouting “Long live Chavez!

”The president has said one of his first moves will be to  hike Venezuela’s sales tax to raise funds for reconstruction.

He has used decree powers in the past to pass about 100  laws, including measures to nationalize part of the oil sector  and increase the number of Supreme Court judges.
Chavez is legally entitled to ask parliament for decree  powers.  But opponents say his real motive is to marginalize  their gains in the parliamentary elections and stop them from  trying to block his agenda after they take their seats.

Chavez mocked his foes as “crazy” and “in need of Valium”  for suggesting he was trampling on the country’s constitution.

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuelan President moved yesterday to bypass parliament and rule by decree  for a year in South America’s biggest oil producer, prompting  opposition accusations of behaving like a dictator.

The socialist leader has used such powers three times  before during his 11 years in power, and says he needs them  again to deal with a national emergency caused by floods that  have killed about 40 people and left almost 140,000 homeless.

The head of parliament said the “Enabling Law” that would  let Chavez govern by decree would be approved by tomorrow. The  text of the law allows him to issue decrees across a wide range  of areas including housing, land, finances and security.

Private banks and property owners are bracing themselves  for another wave of nationalizations by the former paratrooper,  who has taken Venezuela down a steadily more radical route in  an effort to entrench “21st century socialism.” “He is winning time with the tragedy to put limits on the  new National Assembly,” opposition politician Pastora Medina  told Reuters. “He is consolidating himself as a dictator.”

A freshly united opposition coalition won about half the  popular vote at a parliamentary election in September to take  40 percent of seats in a new Assembly that will convene on Jan.  5, when they had hoped to put a check on Chavez’s power.

“It is a brutal attack, without anesthetics, against  democratic life,” said Teodoro Petkoff, editor of leading  opposition newspaper Tal Cual. His paper denounced the decree  move, along with a package of laws being rushed through, as a  “totalitarian ambush … a Christmas ambush” for Venezuelans.

Seeking to outflank his rivals — and with an eye on the  next presidential vote in 2012 — Chavez asked the outgoing  parliament yesterday to grant him fast-track decree powers for  12 months. It is dominated by members of his ruling Socialist  Party and is sure to approve the request. Chavez had said on  Monday the powers could extend for up to 18 months.

Wall Street took the development in stride.

“This news is not completely surprising and the market is  reflecting that,” Bret Rosen at Standard Chartered told  Reuters, saying the balance-of-power implications were more  worrisome than the anticipated fast-track fiscal measures
.
Venezuela’s benchmark global 9.25 percent 2027 paper, one  of the world’s most-traded emerging market bonds, rose 0.562  points to bid 74.500 on Tuesday.

CHAVEZ
HIKE SALES TAX

Chavez’s latest power play raises concern about whether he  would accept defeat if the 2012 election does not go his way.  Polls show his traditionally high ratings have slipped, with  the nation divided down the middle in the September elections.

Outside parliament, several dozen opposition demonstrators  protested against the measure, while supporters of the  president rode past on motorbikes shouting “Long live Chavez!

”The president has said one of his first moves will be to  hike Venezuela’s sales tax to raise funds for reconstruction.

He has used decree powers in the past to pass about 100  laws, including measures to nationalize part of the oil sector  and increase the number of Supreme Court judges.
Chavez is legally entitled to ask parliament for decree  powers.  But opponents say his real motive is to marginalize  their gains in the parliamentary elections and stop them from  trying to block his agenda after they take their seats.

Chavez mocked his foes as “crazy” and “in need of Valium”  for suggesting he was trampling on the country’s constitution.

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