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A Point of No Return for Civil Society?

The National Assembly began a “popular consultation” process for a law to supervise and control, and even close, NGOs operating in Venezuela. The bill was approved in the first discussion on January 24, 2023, but it’s being retaken up now, in an election year.

The Return of The Anti-NGO Law

This Friday, the National Assembly began a “popular consultation” process to approve a Nicaragua-like law to supervise and control, and even close, NGOs operating in Venezuela. The bill was approved in the first discussion on January 24, 2023, but it’s being retaken up now, in an election year, by important figures of Chavismo such as Diosdado Cabello and Jorge Rodríguez. The International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela, established by the United Nations, has described the proposed law as “a possible point of no return in the closure of civic space.”

Rodríguez, president of the National Assembly, also proposed the appointment of a Special Commission to investigate the lawmakers of the 2015 National Assembly for “the crime of usurpation of public positions and theft of national property” and apply the Asset Forfeiture Law, which can lead to the confiscation of assets that belong to the accused opponents.

“Under the law, NGOs in Venezuela would be forced to register with the new agency and reveal their beneficiaries and activities to the state”, Tony wrote in Foreign Policy in 2022, when a previous version was leaked, “The agency would also create a fund where all international donations are held and make the decisions about which NGO activities to finance. Organizations would have six months to ‘adjust their forecasts and guidelines’ to fit with rules created by the agency. This stipulation would potentially force them to align their activities with government policies and make them vulnerable to control, censorship, and even closure.”

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