Nicolás Maduro went to the National Assembly to ask for special powers, i.e., the ability to rule by decree. He doesn’t yet have the votes, but it sounds like they are going to get the last vote they need one way or another.
Of course, the opposition is up in arms. But does all of this really matter?
Nicolás Maduro can do whatever he wants. That was true yesterday, it is true today, and it will be true the moment he gets special powers. His only real constraint is his increasingly emaciated checkbook, but other than that, it’s pretty much free rein for the guy.
So he’ll pass a few laws. So what? Does it change what they are doing now?
Some say Maduro will use the Enabling Law to criminalize dissent, or put Capriles in jail, or do away with city councils. Fact is, he can do all of that now. It’s not like he, like Chávez before him, faces any significant institutional constraints to do whatever he pleases.
Yes, the Enabling Law is one more nail into the coffin of what remains of our democracy. It is an indictment on the extent to which institutions remain at the beck and call of Maduro … well, of Cuba really. It is an apallingly undemocratic act.
The great thing about having a government with all the power at its disposal is that the opposition has nothing to lose!
But it’s not the end of the world. It’s just business as usual in the Bolivarian Catastrophe.
Side-note: A great analysis in Prodavinci of why our National Assembly looks the way it does can be found here. Kudos to Anabella and Bárbara (amigas de la casa) for some powerful insight.