I got 99 Problems, but an Habilitante ain't one [UPDATED]

"Look Kids! That´s what we used to call Separation of Powers"
“Look kids! That’s what we used to call Separation of Powers”

On tuesday’s  National Assembly plenary sesión, opposition legislator Maria Mercedes Aranguren’s parliamentary immunity was eliminated. This basically means she was expelled from the National Assembly and her “substitute”, a certain Carlos Flores, took her place, giving way to the majority vote the PSUV needed to push through Maduro’s Enabling Law.

[UPDATE: It was approved today by a 3/5 majority on first discussion, and will fly through the second discussion of the plenary, announced for next Tuesday.]

So why is no one raising a fuss about this?

In a nutshell…because it’s bullshit.

If the government’s agenda is to effectively destroy whatever modicum of respect remains for the sanctity of institutions, let me be the first one to congratulate them on their win. Who really thinks the Enabling Law is standing in Maduro’s way? The Habilitante won’t really change anything about anything that the Government can and will do.

By this point it is painfully clear that the Legislative branch is but a lame façade for the separation of powers, which even the government sucks at maintaining.

Notice Maduro speaking as the Executive about the Enabling Law as if it was already a fait accompli.

Notice PSUV legislators gloating over the assailing of opposition parliamentary immunity with no regards to keeping their diputado 99 agenda under wraps, or at least trying to make it appear as if the judicial branch is doing its job.

Notice the State media machine already selling the merits of how this Habilitante will help the people win this “economic war.”

Aside from obvious, flagrant affronts to democratic principles like separation of powers and due process and all those other really cute and adorable concepts – which we’re supremely well beyond at this point -, the Ley Habilitante really stacks up to … well, nothing we should waste our devalued time thinking about.

It will pass. And it will give Maduro powers to do…exactly the same as he’s been doing since he came into office.

Which begs the question, why go through all this hullaballoo in the first place?

Well, distraction is a first thought, although at this point, what with the looting and the price controls and forced Christmas and Miss Universe, and, um, elections…who the fuck cares, right? We’re distracted plenty, thankyouverymuch.

The way I see it, the Enabling Law is meant more for chavistas than anyone else. It’s Maduro’s bratty attempt to affirm his power when faced with a divided base; a wag of the Presidential finger to wavering loyalties, people like a certain dark figure that rhymes with Malvado Sin Cuello.

It’s more a symbol of political triumph than a tool in and of itself.

My advice is to worry about the other problems Venezuela has. I can assure you there’s waaaaaay more than 99 of those.

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  1. You are delusional! Of course it matters.
    It will give Maduro the cover for “legality” of whatever he does from now on.
    And it will give Maduro momentum for the election.
    And it makes it possible that this blog is blocked out soon so that it could be read only by people abroad.

    • Oh, dear!
      Do you think those who read in English in Venezuela will be prevented to read this blog?
      They won’t. And anyway: did you know that the vast majority of Venezuelans do NOT read English?

    • It looks pretty clear to me that “legality” is not the government’s main concern. Not even appearing “legal” matter too much to them anymore. I will give you the second point and I think that was one of Emiliana’s point in the article.

      As for the blog being blocked, do you honestly think that without the Enabling Law the government could not block whatever blog they want? Conatel just blocked a bunch of websites. My guess is that they really don’t care too much about Caracas Chronicles because very little people in Venezuela reads it or knows about it. As soon as that changes you can kiss the blog goodbye : (

  2. But if it is for chavistas? Why aren’t those chavistas opposing it? Why is Malvado Sin Cuello just watching? Does he also thinks that Maduro will dig his own grave with it? That thesis doesn’t make sense to me.

    It sounds to me that it has to do more with the military. Powers maybe that will enable him of placing a removing strategic pieces. Also, all the Daka issue (no one gets 400+ million dollars from CADIVI if not in cahoot with some high echelon of chavismo) seems to cutoff those benefiting from these “benefactors” from income. The political gains/loses are just a side effect.

    But again, why aren’t these forces resisting? Why will they vote in favor? Why are they just taking it?

    • Perhaps he’s performing a loyalty count, to show that the assembly is still squarely behind him. Or as has been suggested a raw display of power to force godgiven to fall into line

      It would be sweet if the whole thing fell apart as a vote of no confidence, but that might be suicide for the chavistas, or at the very least mark the beginning of a serious internecine struggle.

  3. Eliana, I want to see what you think 6 months from now about what you say in this article.

    If something has characterized habilitantes in Chavezuela it’s been the fact that they can write laws about WHATEVER they want. Chavez passed 1) A reform of the COPP 2) A new Labor law and 3) The creation of SUNDECOP under an enabling law whose purpose was to deal with the housing crisis after the 2010 heavy rains.

    Of course it’s not to fight corruption/speculation/hoarding. But they can use it for pretty much whatever they want. For what exactly, beats me.

    • Its a formality. When has the lack of an enabling law has never stopped either Chavez nor Maduro from doing whatever they want? Or from circumventing the Constitution? Or from stealing an election? Or from Violating Human Rights? Or from mortgaging Venezuela´s economic future? Habilitante or not, they do whatever they want.

      • They do, Emiliana, but they want laws to permanently make mayors completely powerless. You will agree, I think, there is a difference between the power of Ledezma and that of Ocariz or Scarano. Now all of them shall be like Ledezma.
        Could Maduro have done that without the Enabling Law? Yes, but in a more cumbersome way. Now the change will be speedy. I hope I am wrong.

        • OH, totally agree with you that corruption is not his main concern, and that mayors need to be neutralized. But then again, Jaqueline Farías was named Authority of Dtto. Capital in 2009 with no habilitante necessary.

          • And the Dtto Capital was a legal entity with a special status that few really understood. It was, in the mind of many, something where people expected “special treatment” by the central government.

          • Thing is, an Habilitante is a very specific piece of law; if you read what the actual law says (well, no, you don’t have to read it carefully; merely reading it is enough) you see that it takes an exceptional situation in the country so that the Executive can ask for it, and the Parliament can only grant it for very limited time lapses. And, of course, there’s that little technicality of the Habilitante enabling to only write laws that affect that particular situation which justifies said Habilitante, to begin with. Evidently, as you know full well, none of this has been respected. And it won’t be respected this time, either.

            I think it’s part formality AND an assertion of power (in the mind of chavistas and many oppos, an Habilitante is like God-mode on for the president, and therefore they won’t complain as much when ANY KIND of law is passed as a presidential decree), a way of showing the military that Maduro is the true Chavez-style leader (i.e. he orders something, the rest of the State Powers do what they’re told) but in reality it changes not much in the way things have been getting done in Venezuela for a long time (i.e. Maduro, and Chávez before him, orders something, the rest of the State Powers do what they’re told).

      • I agree with what Kepler says.

        Yes it SEEMS like chavistas can do whatever they want. But they can always do more. What if they pass a law that says under suspicion of corruption, mayors can be arrested, Maduro having the prerrogative to name a substitute?

        Hell, what if they pass a meta-law that gives Maduro the right to inhabilitar politicians a day before the election? I wouldn’t be so indifferent to this enabling law..

      • You are so full of it, it makes you look pathetic. A host of unfounded accusations (circumventing the Constiution; stealing lections – only people who are disociated believe that bullshit). and to complete your flow of ignirance you exhibit a dearth of understanding of what Maduro intends to do with the legislation that has already been drafted weeks ago.

        He has already told you. Limit profits in percntage terms; increase jail sentneces for usury and speculation; force importers to sign a contract of compliance so that dollars do not go missing – and these are for starters.

        But no – in the face of yet another crushing political defeat on December 8th all you can say is – “it does not matter, and wehave better things to think about and worry about”. You sound like an ostrich with her heqad buried in the sand,

        This is a total humilliation for the opposition. The measures taken have strengthened the chavista vote for Decemebr 8th and worse of all people like Borges did not show up to vote against this Law with their faces on TV. Spineless is the only word to describe such politicans.

        • I suppose after the expected post-election devaluation, the minimized profit will be enough to replenish inventories? Please, all businesses, sell at a price that guarantees you will have nothing to sell next year!

        • oh, our favorite enabler-lover is back, I guess you trust Maduro & Company so much that you don’t care that for the next months, new laws will be approved without debate or at least knowledge of the content, what a great democracy we have.

          Oh and it turns out we are paranoid for not believing in maduro’s intention with the powers, it doesn’t matter the the last time they passed laws that had nothing to do with the floods.

  4. I think the powers have to do more with laws that would make permanent and more clear the deviation of public money to the parallel regional governments Maduro needs to completely emasculate every single opposition mayor.
    I think virtually every opposition mayor from December on will have as much power and competences now as Ledezma had in the last few years.

  5. With the 99th vote they not only get the enabling law but also the mayority they need to replace the CNE , Supreme Tribunal , Comptroller General and other govt body members which term has expired with loyals who will obey the regime in all it wants.. It gives them an even bigger institutional hedge than they already had. . Its meant to bring hopelesness and despair to the opposition already cornered on all institutional sides !!

        • How strange – I did not hear or read any opposition deputy contesting the 3/5 majority. Another invesntion by Rodrigo Linares who just cannot swallow yet another defeat.

          • You are right. It was not the approval of the enabling law. It is the removal of an elected deputy that required 2/3 but the unconstitutional reform of the debate rules switched it to 3/5. You can see MCM protesting here:

            Quite an achievement indeed from the PSUV. I am sure you are proud of how democracy was corroded further today.

  6. Bill has a good point when he says “It’s meant to bring hopelessness and despair to the opposition…” In order to have any chance of surviving, the Chavistas have to precipitate a mass exodus from Venezuela of the Opposition. The want everyone who feels strongly enough to oppose them to leave. It was the massive Cuban exodus and exile of businessmen, intellectuals, and leaders that allowed Castro to consolidate is final hold over Cuba. I could not have jailed people in the shear numbers that was necessary. Instead, he intimidated them into leaving, and they obliged him.

    • Sorry. Writing too fast. Again, with all errors corrected.

      Bill has a good point when he says “It’s meant to bring hopelessness and despair to the opposition…” In order to have any chance of surviving, the Chavistas have to precipitate a mass exodus from Venezuela of the Opposition. They want everyone who feels strongly enough to oppose them to leave. It was the massive Cuban exodus and exile of businessmen, intellectuals, and leaders that allowed Castro to consolidate his final hold over Cuba. He could not have jailed people in the shear numbers that was necessary. Instead, he intimidated them into leaving, and they obliged him.

      • If people want to leave and live in the paradie of Doral then that is up to them. I guess it must be easy to flee to the US and overcharge by 1000%……….

        • I’ll give that to you guys! Chavismo has been very wise to never even try to stop educated dissidents leaving the country.

          That was the mistake of the Soviet Union, if the Soviet Union had allowed people to freely leave the it very well might still exist. In the same vein, if China had allowed Deng Xiaoping and others to leave the country the cultural revolution might still be ongoing with the gang of four keeping hold. Instead Mr.Deng was sent to labor in a tractor factory and ended up leading China to its current irreversible capitalist road.

      • I agree about the hopelessness and despair. As a former athlete, you have a big advantage when your opponents feel hopelessness and despair. When I have that, I don’t have to work as hard!

  7. This election is Venezuela’s last chance for the next 75 years if Maduro gets more votes.
    Capriles is risking his skin even as we blog. Venezuela has to support him all the way. For now, I would say, without questions. Any other behavior is suicidal.

    • 75 years is a long time. However, the opportunities to reverse the situation with a minimum of bloodshed are diminishing rapidly. If the Opposition cannot create a “popular revolution” in the aftermath of this election, Venezuelans who cannot accept this regime will be faced with a “fight or flight” personal decision.

    • Kepler – I watch ANTV on a regular basis and have never seen Enrique Mendoza present, let alone speak.

      Opposition leasders who nake a lot of noise such as Borges did not show since they do not want to be seen voting against a measure that has been sold as protecting the interests of the Venezuelan people.

      You must be awae that such people support “savage capitalism” and were really in agreement with astronomical profit margins for the people who finance them.

      It’s that simple.

    • The worst part is, the guy was a pain in the ass when MUD was deciding parliament candidates. He wouldn’t run in Guarenas, PJ had dibs in Petare, so he ended up taking one of the seats from Hatillo-Baruta-Chacao, the safest circuit in Venezuela for MUD.

      MCM won the seat meant for primaries fair and square, and thank God for that. Mendoza was appointed through dedazo to the seat meant for political prisoners, after they were all railroaded through TSJ and thus unelegible to run.

      He is a living example of the crappy backroom deals in MUD. Carlos Vecchio was second after MCM and would have been a great congressman. But the dinosaurs had to have their way.

  8. The leguleya facade has power over the populacho. People in Venezuela IMO are strange indeed: they would recognize the authority from the whole habilitante circus (albeit not understanding the details) and allow fro legislation affecting their lifes to be passed because is “legal y legitima”, and at the same time jumps at every chance to romper la norma y hacer la trampa….

    The facade must always be maintained, until only a gun will do.

    …sad part is that they know this since day one and their real moves and strategic planning has been to control the bigger fire power for the eventual reckoning day.

    Until the time alguien se plante y les ponga el pecho, they will keep playing games, dos pasitos pa lante y uno patras, etc, and continue their invasion.

    The only way Cubans leave us alone if when they fall in the island and when they are shown the way out by force….(bad scenario I can think of too is why care about the isla, many have already moved over to Venezuela to run their colony)

    • Paul – the law limiting profit margins will make the parallel dollar just a reference for people who want to buy dollars as they cannot get them anywhere else. It will stop pricing of goods based on the parallel rate.

      I expect a lot of people to go to jail until this measyre is obeyed.

      • And if that happens I expect tons of empty stores because nobody will import that way and a black market of products with much higher prices than we have now.

        Then, I expect Maduro to say that it’s the opposition’s fault because they decided not to import as a form of “destabilizing the government”. Of course I also expect fanatic chavistas as yourself to buy that story without asking themselves why not even patriotic chavistas are importing goods in such conditions….

      • Arturo, how old are you? Have you ever lived before in a controlled economy or is it a first for you? Do you really think the unmentionable will become a mere reference? You are in for a big surprise my friend. It will become the norm, it is already the norm and check Dolartoday.org to see how its ascension is speeding by the day.. What Maduro is doing these days is a mere side show for Christmas, oh, oh oh.. The market rules whether it is white or now black. Let us talk it over in a year’s time, probably less. Just make sure you are well connected and have access to preferential dollars. The law limiting profit margins will not be worth the paper it will be written on. You guys keep on reinventing the economic wheel and every time it squeaks more than the previous time. From someone who has lived this type of situation in Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua, Laos, Zambia, Zimbabwe and now Venezuela. Are Venezuelans so much smarter than the rest? That will be the day!

  9. BTW – a message to you all. A law promulgated in the context of the Enabling Law can be repealed by collecting 5% of the signatures of registered voters and triggering a national referéndum.

    Why has no one spoken about this on this thread and the only solution I can see are firearms and bloodshed – which none oof you would have the stomach for?

    None of you really believe in deomocracy – especially Emiliana and Pinochet Foundationist Juan Nagel. I give Quico the benefit of the doubt.

    “Pónganse las alpargatas, lo viene es joropo!”

    • You must be desperate. The more you try to destroy now, the more you are going to sink and the more radically yours will disappear. Remember that. The Nazis thought like you that they were going to last 1000 years.

    • Arturo, aften the Tascón list and the systematic blacklisting of those that oppose the government, none will ever sign again for a referendum against the government.

      Son unos tramposos!

    • Dude, you should just cut to the chase and make every message you post the following: “Hi! I’m Arturo! I’m mentally ill and keep coming back to this blog because I’ve got nothing better to do with my miserable life!” Seriously, man, you’re pretty pathetic. Go get a job or a girlfriend, or something.

    • Referenda are dead in Venezuela. Chavez killed them when he fired every civil servant who signed against him, blacklisted them from holding government jobs and from benefitting from social programs. It’s known as Lista Tascón or Lista Maisanta.
      The vast majority of Venezuelans wouldn’t dare sign against the PSUV government, after this.

  10. I have read a few articles about demonstrations scheduled for Saturday of people fed-up with how things are. They are people reported to be demonstrating against both the government and the [ineffective] opposition. Their reported point is that they are ready to take up matters on their own without any political affiliation.

    • Undoubtedly it will be due to a CIA plot. Just like the CIA was responsible for the smuggled drugs from Caracas to France.Someone else is always to blame for the horrendous failure of this corrupt government, no matter how absurd their claim may be.

  11. The remarks by Arturo on this post are really just too much to take. These are not “discussion”. They are juvenile and hateful taunts. Can we not collectively banish him?

  12. Emiliana is right. The Habilitante changes/really gains/loses nothing. It’s simply Maduro’s ego trip,to be like Chavez, and to “rule” with absolute power. Thing is, he’s so incompetent, he’ll simply compound the mess he’s already made. I see only 3 possible scenarios: patriotic military make an attempt (and, may fail the first time, but it will be the beginning of the end); the Pueblo stages their own “Caracazo” as retail stores close, scarcity becomes even worse, and prices go much higher (this may have been delayed somewhat by Maduro’s recent/ongoing “legal”: Caracazo nationwide); or the “Pueblo” continues to sink into submission under the current Cuban strategists to eventually become a (slightly more prosperous-perhaps) modified version of the current Cuban Communist model

    • The more power you give him the more quickly he will screw it up. As long as the opposition can remain a viable political force (not arrested and thrown out of office en masse) giving more power to Maduro will simply eliminate any excuses for the ongoing failure that is Venezuela. Things are going to get worse with our without this law, better for Venezuelans to be able to lay the blame where it lies!

      And based on polls, they have clearly figured out the PSUV is not improving anything.

      • Ah, just thought of a good analogy.

        This enabling law is a bit like giving a madman a running chainsaw: Scary but he is likely to kill himself sooner or later, the question is what collateral damage he does first.

    • Lives ruined. Even if these small store owners received some CADIVI dollars, there can be no doubt most of their stock was bought at the black market rate. They have their life savings invested in the stock of the store, and it’s gone.

      At least we can be sure they will never ever vote for Maduro.

      • The sad thing is, no one will come out to defend business owners and enterpreneurs. It just doesnt work that way, and the Govt.knows it.

        • .And you are right no one will. The saddest part is that many of the worst problems right now in Venezuela were caused by arbitrary restrictions on property, fair trade in competition (That’s why you cannot rent an apartment, buy a car, get competitive prices, no one builds new housing ) but very few politicians are willing to tell it for what it is. Perhaps only MCM.
          This video got to me. Not only because of the owner, but also because of the terrified employers who know that this display of populism and arbitrary power from the government is going to cost them their jobs and no one will do nothing about it.


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