"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Venezuela Hands Chavez Power to Rule by Decree

"Venezuela's parliament gave President Hugo Chavez decree powers for 18 months on Friday, outraging opposition parties that accused him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship.

"The move consolidated the firebrand socialist leader's hold on power after nearly 12 years in office, and raised the prospect of a fresh wave of nationalizations as the former paratrooper seeks to entrench his self-styled 'revolution.'

"Chavez had asked for the fast-track powers for one year, saying he needed them to deal with a national emergency caused by floods that drove nearly 140,000 people from their homes.
But the Assembly, which is dominated by loyalists from his Socialist Party, decided to extend them for a year and a half.

"That means the president can rule by decree until mid-2012, and can keep opposition parties out of the legislative process until his re-election campaign is well under way for Venezuela's next presidential vote in December of that year.


"The 'Enabling Law,' which means the president can issue decrees across a wide range of areas including housing, land, finances and security, has been denounced as autocratic by his political rivals as well as by the U.S. State Department.

"A freshly united opposition coalition won about half the popular vote at a parliamentary election in September to take 40 percent of the seats in the next Assembly -- where they had hoped to put a check on the president's powers.

"Chavez's latest move raised 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 split down the middle in September elections."

Well, isn't that nice? The opposition had hoped to put a check on Chavez's power and he and his cronies responded by giving himself dictatorial powers for 18 months. Such nonsense. And oh, I'm sure if Chavez was defeated in an election he'd step right down. He wouldn't allege voter fraud interfering with the mandate of the people or anything...

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