Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Plenty to keep them busy 

With the enabling law that the Venezuelan National Assembly has given Chavez the opposition has tried to argue that the legislature has given all its power to Chavez and that they will be completely irrelevant for the next 18 months. As most things that the opposition says, this turns about to not be even close to being true.

Today in Ultimas Noticias they published a little chart showing which laws will be reviewed by the executive branch (on the left) and those that will be the perview of the legislative branch (on the right):

Lets take a look at some of the things the Assembly will be handling.

First, they will be responsible for revising the Penal Code - that is the basic law that determines what the criminal laws are in Venezuela and what the punishments are for breaking them. It is this Penal Law that famously has some absurd laws like the ones making it a criminal offense to "offend" the president, another making it a crime to bang on pots and pans (a form of political protest in Venezuela), and another making it a grave crime for a wive to commit adultery (but not a husband). These laws were all written decades ago and Venezuela has spent its entire democratic era living under them but hopefully the National Assembly will see fit to get rid of them.

They will also be responsible for revising the laws on education, corruption, the civil registry, laws on environmental protection, and one on discrimination against people with HIV. This should be more than enough to keep them busy - in addition to other more mundane things like approving the budget.

Chavez will have his hands full with revising labor law, laws regulating the armed forces, laws on tourism (wow, he really must be a dictator to want to change laws on tourism by decree!!!), and laws on the national police and prison system, among others.

There is a lot of work to be done so the government is doing a very logical thing - dividing it up and hopefuly accomplishing twice as much as they would if both branches had to work on the same projects.

Also, it should not be overlooked the very first laws put into effect by Chavez with his new decree powers were the ones eliminating the value added tax on numerous food items. I'm sure opposition supporters who are outraged by this upsurping of power that should reside with the legislature will ingnore this illegitimate law promulgated by Chavez and insist storekeepers keep charging them the tax!!


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