Correo del Orinoco International provides this valuable Question & Answer (Q & A) brief on Venezuela’s new Enabling Law:
1. What is an Enabling Law for?
To concede powers to the Executive for a determined period of time to approve decrees that permit the implementation of important transformative policies which would otherwise take too long to enact due to bureaucratic obstacles.
The current law has been approved by the National Assembly for 18 months to enable decrees relating to infrastructure, transportation, housing and public services, amongst other matters, responding directly to the emergency caused by torrential rains that left more than 130,000 people displaced throughout the nation and affected agricultural production.
2. What practical use has an Enabling Law had before?
It has permitted the President to advance social and economic benefits within the model of development fomented by the Bolivarian Revolution. Legislation such as the Hydrocarbons Law, which returned the administration and oversight of national oil resources to Venezuela in order to directly benefit and address the needs of the people; the Law of Food Sovereignty, which contributed to improving the nutritional index in the country; the Fishing Law, which eliminated trawling as a form of fishing; and the Land
Reform Law, which has progressively reduced the presence of unjust and unproductive land estates in order to advance and improve national agricultural production and promote smallscale farmers – were all approved under Enabling Laws.
3. Why is there so much fuss over the Enabling Law?
President Chavez has answered this question himself: “The opposition are more and more distanced and disconnected from the people and demonstrate their profound disregard for the nation’s needs”.
Recently-elected opposition congress members laud their alleged capacity to paralyze the country, once the new legislature is installed on January 5th. They dream of tying the hands and feet of the President and of dissolving current institutions and policies.
Nonetheless, the opposition do not have a significant majority capable of achieving such undemocratic objectives. The Enabling Law will allow the Executive to legislate in an expedited and accelerated way in favor of the people, and will guarantee structural responses in connection with the People’s Power to the problems generated by the emergency caused by the rains.
4. Does the current Parliament have the authority to approve a law that extends beyond January 5th?
Yes. All laws approved by any legislative body in the world are valid beyond the legislative sessions. Only popular will can revoke them.
5. Will the new Parliament be unable to legislate?
Elected members from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), as well as those from opposition parties, will be in full capacity to pursue legislative initiatives and policies within the new National Assembly.
The powers given to the President do not impede those laws, whose approval – or not – will depend strictly on the amount of votes issued by members of parliament.