The National Constituent Assembly (ANC) likes to portray itself as the new sheriff in town. Public opinion has accepted the notion that there was some semblance of rule of law still hanging on until the ANC was convened and started ruling by decree.

This is… how to put this? Bizarre. Somehow, we’ve all collectively forgotten that Maduro has been approving a new Economic Emergency Decree every 120 days. Maybe because it’s a little wonky and a little recondite, public opinion never really grasped what this actually meant. But let me break it down for you: Maduro’s been ruling by decree since January 2016, when his very-unconstitutional-yet-unstoppable Economic Emergency Decree was first handed down, before being renewed five times.

People maybe haven’t quite grasped it — but Maduro’s been ruling by decree ever since. All kinds of new rules have been rammed through under cover of the decrees. In fact, under the first four Economic Emergency Decrees and their respective extensions, enforced between January 2016 and mid-May 2017, Maduro signed 148 Presidential Decrees.

One hundred and forty eight!

Of these, 80 (54.1%) were used to assign additional resources without needing the approval of Créditos Adicionales by the National Assembly, allocating a whooping Bs. 4.08 trillion in 2016 and close to Bs.717 billion in 2017.

Just to be clear: virtually none of it is being invested. 92.7% of the resources assigned in 2016 and 84.5% of the resources assigned between January and mid-May 2017 covered budget shortfalls related to staff costs, raising public administration salaries, Cestaticket and social security (IVSS) pensions.

Though the decrees are supposed to address the “economic emergency”, just 12.1% of the decrees signed in 2016 even claim to seek to promote economic activity, the supply of basic goods and even social programs. In the first five months of this year, only 7.3% of Maduro’s decrees met this very loose standard.

We’ve all collectively forgotten that Maduro has been approving a new Economic Emergency Decree every 120 days.

Instead, Maduro’s largely used them to bypass the National Assembly’s power to control public spending. He’s used his emergency powers, for instance, to approve the National Budget for 2017. Through the fourth emergency decree Maduro even expropriated the Venezuelan Industrial Consortium of China Technology, Civetchi, C.A. And though he didn’t need the emergency decree for it, Maduro used it to show-off and appoint Ricardo Sanguino as President of the Central Bank.

The extension of the fifth economic emergency decree is currently in force and it has become a blank check… almost literally. All during the campaign, election and first weeks of the ANC on the job.

Maduro signed 56 presidential decrees between mid-May 2017 and September 4th of 2017. Of these, 49 (87.5%) allocated additional resources totaling Bs. 10.44 trillion, Bs. 9.56 trillion (91.6%) to cover budget shortfalls related to staff costs, raising  public administration salaries, Cestaticket and social security (IVSS) pensions.

These 49 decrees — signed checks, so to speak — represent 93.6% of the total additional resources allocated through the economic emergency decrees in 2017. Even with four months to go till the end of year, the Bs. 10.44 trillion allocated are 2.7 times those allocated in 2016, 1.23 times the budget for 2017 and almost 3 out of 10 Bolivares circulating in the economy (M2) -as of August 25th, 2017.

Also, the sum of the 2017 National Budget and the additional resources allocated through economic emergency decrees between January and September 4th of 2017 totalled Bs. 19.64 trillion, equivalent to 6 out of every 10 Bolivares circulating in the economy — as of August 25th, 2017. This total is, in turn, 3.5 times the one registered in 2016.

The ANC may seem like the new boss, but checks are still being signed by Maduro.

9 COMMENTS

  1. All of this won’t matter once the wheels come off Chavismo’s economic wagon. They won’t be able to pull off paying their coming debts unless they throw their core constituency under the bus. They have been kicking the can down the road in the hopes of some obscure economic miracle. I haven’t the foggiest idea what that might be… planeloads of US narco-dollars materializing on a remote tarmac? A leprechaun appears at Miraflores with a (large) pot of gold?

    Only when the people who are die-hard Chavistas aren’t getting ANYTHING from this kleptocracy will things change. That can only occur when the producers “strike” (think Atlas Shrugged). When the Looters have stolen everything and they have no more excuses. What can they do? Stealing from someone who has nothing left to steal is counter intuitive. (not that Chavismo rely’s on logic and reason) Are they going to jail a person who has given up on the Chavismo dream?

    Only then will it be meaningful.

    • “Only when the people who are die-hard Chavistas aren’t getting ANYTHING from this kleptocracy will things change.”

      Look what the woman that appears in this video thinks about that:

    • Only when the people with guns aren’t getting ANYTHING from this kleptocracy will things change. The regime can go on giving them crumbs, minor perks for awhile while everyone else continues to go hungry.

      • Unfortunately, when thugs with guns quit getting freebies from their benefactors, they start using their guns to steal from those with no guns. Sadly, thugs do what thugs do… prey upon the weak in their own communities. Funny how Chavismo espouses to help the poor and oppressed… only to make them more poor and oppressed.

  2. True.

    Correct me if I am wrong but it seems to me that the argument that the ANC was a critical step beyond was to a great degree a notion being pushed by Louisa Ortega Diaz. It was part of her arsenal of arguments that somehow only recently, and without her assistance and acquiescence, the regime had stepped over the edge into un-Constitutionality. It was an exhibit in her implicit argument that the regime somehow suddenly bore no resemblance to the regime she has been a chief spokesperson for, for many years.

    And everyone wanted this to be the rallying point, or at least excuse, for a wave of chavista defections, so the chorus rose.

    And then the gringo president inserted himself and the ANC became for a brief moment the “weapons of mass destruction” that could result in military options. And the chorus rose again.

    And the chorus rose, only to be rendered absurd with LOD’s exit from Venezuela to a future career in human rights law and being a pot calling the kettle black, and a gringo response to the crossing of the red line that is not susceptible to rational explication by the most articulate of professional experts.

    The pedestrian truth is that there has been a slow and steady erosion of democratic institutions in Venezuela going on for many years now, executive power has been unchecked for a long time, and the ANC is just one more elaborate but no less transparent attempt to paint this dismal scene over as the will of the Venezuelan people.

    The fulcrum for a democracy movement is not going to be a pile of bullshit. Lesson learned.

  3. Ironically, the regime change might be precipitated by the international loans taken out by the chavistas. Without a default, it is easier to imagine this regime continuing indefinitely “a la cubana”!

  4. Ostensibly and undeniably the ANC and the TSJ are rubber stamp marionettes automatically stamping their approval on every single one of the Regimes arbitrary despotic decisions , a fig leaf of mushy ‘legality’ covering the naked tyrannical arbitrary will of the regime . The government has been ruling by dictatorial decree for several years now …….., they fool no one ……..but I for one find grating how they so clumsily try to give a thin veneer of formality to what is clearly and blatantly a dictatorial system of rule.

  5. Hi Anabella,

    I’m a little confused by your numbers. Close to the beginning, you state that in “Creditos Adicionales”, “close to Bs.717 billion in 2017” were allocated.

    However, further down you state that Maduro “between mid-May 2017 and September 4th of 2017 … allocated additional resources totaling Bs. 10.44 trillion”. The difference is close to two orders of magnitude!. Could you please clarify this?.

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