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  HOME | Venezuela (Click here for more Venezuela news)

VenEconomy: The Sham of the Bolivarian Enabling Laws

From the Editors of VenEconomy

The enabling laws are special powers that have been granted not only in Venezuela since last century to legislate in times of natural disasters and war situations, but also in cases of financial and economic emergencies. But, since the late Hugo Chávez came to power, these "enabling laws" have served for the President to enact all sorts of laws without the "need" to consult them with the Parliament or the public opinion.

Since 1961, the legislative branch has granted 11 enabling laws to seven presidents of the Republic. Six of them were granted to five constitutional presidents between 1961 and 1998; five between 1999 and 2012 allowed Chávez to pass 215 decree-laws in varying periods for a total of 4 and a half years out of the 14 years he was in power; and one to Nicolás Maduro on November 15 of 2013 that conferred special powers on him for 12 months so he could "fight" corruption and an alleged "economic war that has caused speculation, hoarding and shortages of basic goods."

The case is that the four enabling laws granted to Chávez, and that single one to Maduro, have been used to build a wide "legal" network that underpins and deepens the so-called "Socialism of the 21st century."

After getting his special powers, Maduro passed his first three decree-laws on November 15 of last year: 1) The Fair Price Law. 2) The Law for the Regulation of Property Leasing for Commercial Purposes. 3) The Law on the Currency Exchange Regime created by the National Foreign Trade Center (Cencoex) and the partially-altered Law against Foreign Exchange Crimes.

A year has passed already and all of them have failed to either curb corruption or pull the country out of the economic quagmire it is in thanks to the misguided policies of the "Plan for the Homeland." On the contrary! Venezuela is mired in the worst economic and social crisis of all its republican history.

And on November 14, just a few days away from the expiration of his special powers, Maduro signed three other decree-laws: 1) The Organic Law for the Community Management of Skills, Services and Other Tasks; 2) The Law for Establishing the Guidelines for Financing Grassroots Organizations; 3) The Law for the Productive Youth. In addition, he passed reforms of the Food Law and the Law on Missions or Social Programs (the latter has not been published in the Official Gazette yet.) All of them in line with the Communal State outlined in the Plan for the Homeland, and not in accordance with the National Constitution.

On Monday, in the framework of the closing ceremony of the First Congress of the Working Class in Caracas, Maduro announced another decree-law: the Law for the Simplification of Administrative Procedures, perhaps the only enabling law that may help alleviate the heavy burden of corruption. And announced a reform of the Organic Law of Public Administration and the Law of Public and Popular Planning.

During the event he also passed 12 proposals from chavista workers, some of which will be swiftly included in the enabling law before its expiration this week. Among the most relevant are: 1) A new structure for the Labor Ministry. 2) The creation of the Working Class’ Office for the Protection of Wages and Against Speculation. 3) The integration of an "armed workers’ militia" as part of the National Armed Forces. 5) The creation of a Banco Bicentenario bank for the working class.

What the enabling law will not prevent from happening is an increase in gasoline prices he announced on Monday, which is supposedly backed by an alleged request from the working class. That will be another matter for sure.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

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