A closer look at Maduro's superpowers

Super Maduro
Super Maduro

Press reports about Nicolás Maduro’s new powers on economic issues don’t really do justice to what is going on. When you scratch beneath the surface and actually read the text, you realize chavismo is getting ready for an election. The timing of the decree – and its announcement – suggests the President’s health is worsening.

The first thing to note is that this is not the first decree giving Maduro sweeping powers, but actually the second one.

The first, issued in October, gave Maduro a few of the powers mentioned: expropriating companies, shifting budget items from one part of the government to another, and the like. In short, he already had the power to do that stuff, so there is no news on that front.

I read this new decree and compared it to the old, and found three significant differences. The new decree:

1. Gives Maduro power to issue debt (which the old decree did not do) … without having to go through the National Assembly.

2. Gives Maduro power to issue credits to the Federal Budget. What this means is that not only can he issue debt, he can send the money to the appropriate Ministries. This was not in the previous decree.

3. Gives Maduro the power to give tax breaks to certain sectors, as well as take money away from certain Ministries and programs. This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Most curiously, these powers were given to the Minister of Finance in the previous decree. Now, it’s all in Maduro’s hands.

You may think this is all related to a possible devaluation that is coming down the pipes. I disagree.

I think this is related to an upcoming election. As we know, chavismo builds electoral power based on public spending. It borrows money from China so that it can spend the money on Chinese washers that will translate into votes. Future generations of Venezuelans are left with the tab. The Chinese cobran y se quedan con el vuelto.

This decree basically gives Maduro full power to wash, rinse, and repeat (in a Haier, no less!) the exact same strategy they employed in October.

The other curious thing is that the decree is dated December 9th. However, it was only made public December 21st, although the press got hold of it only yesterday.

This is not typical. The previous decree, just to give an example, was dated October 16th, and was published two days later.

Why the delay in publishing a decree that is almost exactly the same as the previous one, with the three items mentioned above being the only changes?

The powers given to Maduro are purely electoral in nature, so this can only mean that elections are now more certain than on December 9th. The plan must have been to hold on to the decree encaletao … until Maduro needed it.

It doesn’t take a master strategist to conclude the obvious: Chávez’s prognosis is not good.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Happy Rojo New Year!
    Well I think y’all should have taken a longer vacation but this decree is similar to a decision taken in July 2011 to delegate responsibilities to then Vice President Elias Jaua when President Chavez traveled to Cuba to receive chemotherapy.

    It’s mere speculation about a election coming up and if there is one it may not be Maduro for the PSUV and I understand the terms for 7 members of the TSJ are now up and I think they remain till the NA votes on new ones.

    Here the kicker for y’all who are faint at heart…The Vienna Convention (1961), which regulates international relations, reaffirms that embassies represent the country’s territory. Any legal act on them is legitimate, so it may be unlikely, but I would not rule out that President Chavez can take the oath of office in the embassy of Venezuela in Havana unless he comes back before the 10th and there could be a delay in swearing in anyway.

    Rojo Rojito


    • Gee, thanks for your totally false interpretation of the Convention! Perhaps you could enlighten us as to which provision of the Convention says that Embassies are part of the sender nation ‘s territory, or that “any legal act on them is legitimate.”

    • So, he shall govern Venezuela the whole period from Cuba? From swearing in on? Why don’t we make the capital La Habana, and while we are at it, swear Raul Castro for President of Cubazuela? How high can you get, man? Oh, you are high on communism, I see.

      • loroferoz,
        Don’t laugh. Chavez could appoint Raul Castro as vice-president of Venezuela. Then Chavez could turn over all powers to him. Citizenship is a small issue.

        • I am quite serious. I am trying to follow on the fundamental absurdities in Cort’s mind to their last consequences. It’s that Raul is President of Cuba. But it’s all rhetoric, for Chavez will not be taking any oaths, for he is unable to.

    • Even el imperio mesmo doesn’t claim that it’s embassy premises abroad are part of its territory.
      “The status of diplomatic and consular premises arises from the rules of law relating to inviolability and immunity from the jurisdiction of the receiving State; the premises are not part of the territory of the sending State…” (US Department of State).
      The supreme court of Venezuela – along with other branches of government – has no constitutional authority to act outside the borders of the republic (Art. 18 of the 1999 constitution).

    • Neither of you understood Cort’s point.
      He meant what he said; is not a ventriloquist interpretation of Vienna’s convention; it’s the way Chavistas understand the law: poorly, ignorantly, poignantly and premeditated.
      It seems none of you read Cabello’s comments regarding what would happen is Chavez is not around by 10th of January:
      “If the 10th the President is not around, he will be swear in before the Supreme Court. Where? When? It [the constitution] doesn’t say”
      This is, by far, one of the most horrendous legal interpretations I, a lawyer myself, have ever come across about La bicha.
      I would add that this is not hermeneutics anymore; this is pure will.
      Bravo Cabello, aún no eres presidente y ya decides…

  2. This is a worthy conspiracy theory! Chavismo understands that economic disaster could undermine their re-election, and this would be an effective delay tactic, i.e. washing machines for votes. If we are getting a glimpse of what’s behind the curtain, then we are getting closer to that event in horror movies where the monster reveals himself to all and uses his ugly powers to terrorize and control.

    Conspiracy theories are not always what pan out. But, at this point, let’s hope that Hugo Chavez pulls off a recovery!

    • “Chavismo understands that economic disaster could undermine their re-election,..”

      Exactly correct. The longer it takes to establish a firm election date, the more dangerous their re~election chances.

  3. While an embassy remains the territory of the host state, under international rules representatives of the host country may not enter an embassy without permission—even to put out a fire and it is common practice that the embassy is immune from local jurisdiction.

    Because an embassy represents a sovereign state, any attack on an embassy is considered an attack on the country it represents.

    Like when you wing nuts attacked the Cuban embassy during the coup but you were not democrats then or believed in the Constitution like you do now…ha,ha ha…

      • Cort Greene is so self aggrandizing, he can’t even be bothered to reply properly. Instead each of his replies are a new mainline comment to the original post. He is successfully distracting from the main point of this post, Maduro is in fact the acting president and by all indications Chavez is quite sick (meaning Chavez lied about being cured).

    • So, the people attacking the cuban embassy were the same ones running the blog? You know this for a fact? Not to mention that what you consider an “attack” was more akin to a protest, and nothing close to attack and hostage taking perpetrated by Chavez’ Iranian buddies against the US embassy in Tehran.

      • Let´s call things by its name and not fall by Cort´s arguments.
        Good point to let him know we might not be those who were there that day. Calling that chapter a protest is not only a mistake, it´s an unhappy mistake.
        Iranians weren´t Chavez buddies by that time. Cannot, by any means, be comparable. the Iranian revolution changed the face of the world by far. Did you know Mahmoud Ahmadinejiad, someone you can properly call a Chavez buddy, was one of the few students that spoke against, and refuse to take part, into the Embassy´s assault?

        Let´s measure our regurgitations

        • Who said anything about Ahmadinejad? Chavez has declared Iran an ally of Venezuela, Iran to this day upholds the hostage taking as a justifiable action. In 2011 the British embassy was stormed by the Basij, Ahmadinejad failed to offer the embassy sufficient protection or punish the people responsible. Say what you like about the gathering outside of the Cuban embassy, but it was peanuts compared to the 2011 storming of the British Embassy in Tehran.

          Furthermore, Cort is the one making unfair associations, implying that the people who run this blog, or the opposition in general, is responsible for whatever happened at the Cuban embassy. I think we agree on that point though.

          • Well, you mentioned the US embassy, so I positioned myself in 1979, not in 2011. Besides, it is true that Iran failed to fulfill its obligations under international law; but the incident in 2011 was far more confusing in accountability terms than the 1979 crisis was. Having said that, I just have to say that is not adding whatever we like to a particular incident, it’s the fact that we have to come to terms with our mistakes, and calling the incident in front of the Cuban embassy a protest is simply not true, there were people cutting electricity off and smashing cars. It is a piece of cake, I cannot but agree, but can you notice any difference between a corpse with 10 and another with just 1 bullet?

    • You claimed, falsely, that The Vienna Convention states that an overseas Embassy is part of the national territory and that “legal acts there are legitimate” and binding. I asked you for the specific source for these confident assertions and you now admit that “an Embassy remains the territory of the host state.” In other words, a swearing-in of Hugo Chavez would be invalid if it occurs in an overseas Embassy.

      Next time don’t claim legal authority for illegal acts. That is what criminals do.

      • There are ways around it, for example the Cuban government could decree that the hospital room is “extraterritorial” and declare that while Chavez is there that room is Venezuelan territory… That has happened in other jurisdictions…

        • Yeah, that would be perfectly possible. To be really safe, Cuba could offer the land as a one day lease to Venezuela (Similar the Canal Zone in Panama). It runs foul of the spirit of the Venezuelan constitution, but I think it would be legal.

  4. Because of budget cuts to social services since the Reagan era and the new round of austerity coming to the US and worldwide we don’t have many nuthouses left( home care and social services would be better but we live in a society of butter or guns in the land where the streets are paved with gold,not).

    Know all about what happened in Kenya and don’t like many within the diplomatic corps and certainly not the head of the Foreign ministry and current VP.

    • I’m confused! The Cuban embassy represents a separate sovereign state? I might like to dispute that. I am not sure what rolls Cuba is playing in Venezuela’s sovereign governance. Maybe the wing nuts are those who sit quietly by while a Cuban-style revolution applies Cuban-advisers to support a dictator who sends it’s precious resources to prop up a Cuban failed economy.

  5. Whether it’s election or devaluation, the prognosis is the same: Transicion en Gotas, suavecito para que no duela. Transition drop by drop, easy, so it won’t hurt.

    You are surely right in this, Juan: The Vicepresident would and could use these powers only if he is going to be acting President, for a period longer than a few weeks.

    As for Hugo Chavez, the PSFs, Cort included can have their fantasies over him swearing in at La Habana all they want, and even imagine the color of the curtains for the great occasion. Hugo Chavez shall not be taking oaths or sacraments, for in all probability the only one he can take now is extreme unction.

  6. Is Cort Greene the same guy who repeatedly laughed at Juan’s writings regarding Chavez’ imminent demise? Has he even apologized or accepted that he bought the official lie and was fooled?

    • Yeah, same guy. No he has not apologized, or even acknowledged that he was taken for a ride. He justified it all by saying some people in the opposition said Chavez was unable to walk, so they aren’t reliable either. The fact that Chavez, and his underlings, lied to him flies right over his head.

  7. I thought that the decree issued on December 9th was only made public on December 21st since the chavistas wanted to be certain that Chavez as recoveriing. If Chavez ws not going to recover immediately after the operation it would not have been necessary to issue it at all since CXhavez would have either expired or been incapable of governing.

    Thaink of this. elections are called and Capriles or one of your lot wins. He can do nothing as the state governors, the AN, the TSJ and the rest of the pubic powers are in hands of the chavistas – as well as almost 300 alcaldias on May 26th. .

    No matter – any chgavista candidate would win.

    Por último – Juan – get a grip. You really need a vacation. You are looking far to mhard for that magic needle in the haystack which will dispel your tendency to chismear and speculate.

    • First, I’m touched that you would have bookmarked CC on your mobile device for text typing replies. Rather sweet, when one isn’t tripping over all your non-spell-checked words. (We missed you. Did you have a good holiday, dear?)
      Second, if the AN — with full medical disclosure — didn’t know what Chávez’ prognosis was on December 9th, then they are even more stupid than earlier believed. Did you try this excuse? The AN mistook the word “vertebrectomía”, required to prolong the life expectancy of he who knowingly had a recurring and advancing tumor, for an apendectomía. That might work. You may have your cake and eat it, too, after all, Arturo.

  8. It’s true, actually, any “cagavista” (spelling corrected from “chgavista”) candidate can win–e. g., Meliach/Rodriguez Chacin/se para de contar. Right now, it’s doubtful Chavez will even make it alive to the New Year, much less Jan. 10. Finally, speculation as to near- future political/ Constitutional events is futile, since neither laws nor the Constitution are observed in Venezuela, and we are about to enter into completely uncharted political territory.

    • she doesn’t (read Spanish). At least, not yet at the level required to interpret a constitution. That’s why she wants to slum it and stay in the 23 de enero (Cort Greene dixit). Thinks it’ll improve her language skills and street cred — if she lives.

      Otra necia, puej.

  9. I’m thinking that the big question at the moment is how people act when there is a combination of devaluation and shortages. People can start hording goods, which makes shortages all the worse. The Chavista public relations game of blaming the bourgeoisie can create a civil war if people get desperate enough. Am I being paranoid?

    • No, your fears are justified. That’s why it is vital to have Chavistas at the helm over the coming year, if MUD were at the helm Venezuela would burn as Chavistas could simply say all the cuts are avoidable.

  10. There are some commentators here who by acting the role of agents provocateurs rile up the readers to such pitch of interesting exchanges , that they actually help make this blog more popular . Perhaps they are to be thanked . I suspect that this is not exactly their intent , but criticism does have a way of making like minded people in a group go more deeply into the reasons why they share certain ideas , making their analysis more accurate and nuanced.!!

    • “Mental Acrobat is you: Of course, he signed the decree because he will be coming home soon. In a box!”

      The essence of subtlety.

      • They, alternatively, DO make one lose all subtlety, if just for the sake of telling them exactly what one thinks of their rather hurried and hubris-filled argumentation.

        If he had said, for example, that the decree allowed Maduro some room to maneuver while Chavez recovered at his leisure, for anyhow chavistas will take the Jan. 10 deadline predictably, it might even sound believable.

        He could have gone on saying that Chavez needed to share power with another leader of chavismo such as Maduro.

        But this is rather beyond him, just as inventing a good insult for Cyrano’s nose was for Count de Guiche.

  11. Actually, after Arturo and Cort’s commentaries and hubris, I am partial to letting The Comic Duo, Batgirl and Robin (you decide which is which), use their new Superpowered Rope to hang themselves with it over the course of a year now that Batman is definitely not coming back.

  12. Here is a closer look at Maduro’s superpowers. Afterhe had been anointed by Chavez, he lost all credibility and showed what he really is; a spineless jellyfish. This happened on Nov. 27 during the military show (the day two flying machines crashed to the ground). The star of the event was the minister of defense and the VP was relegated to a corner of the official podium as one of the guests and gracefully accepted this De-facto demotion. Is that the fellow who will lead us to XII century socialist paradise once the walking corpse crosses the Styx for good? Gimme a break, they gone crap all over him.

  13. Question for you guys. The opposition frequently attacks Chavez for his relationship with Ahmadinejad and other Middle Eastern leaders. Given that maintaining the cohesion of the OPEC cartel is essential to maintaining the price of oil on which the viability of the social programes or misiones is largely based, how does the opposition intend to manage this contradiction between their ideology and the national interest?

      • We don’t have them in North London, more’s the pity 😉

        It’s a genuine question. How would the opposition manage relationships with Venezuela’s OPEC allies? What are your thoughts?

        • Chavez’ support for Ahmadinejad, like his support for Assad in Syria or what’s-his-name in Belorus, is ideological; it is just raw antiAmericanism. It was not conceived to advance Venezuela’s interests, and abandoning it will do no harm to Venezuela.

        • Calvin: What are my thoughts about your convoluted question?
          Evidently, your revolutionary studies have not taught you to think in simple terms, but rather, to stir things up, so that understanding truly doesn’t take place. Call it Misión Keep the peasants stupid. Nonetheless, I’ll parse and select this gem:

          “Given that maintaining the cohesion of the OPEC cartel is essential to maintaining the price of oil on which the viability of the social programes or misiones is largely based…”

          And I ask you: Are you saying that the viability of the social programmes, or misiones, is largely based on maintaining the current price of oil?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here