Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
This Week in Latin America, Venezuela

Chávez Asks Venezuela National Assembly For Decree Powers

December 15, 2010 By Staff

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez requested temporary decree powers Tuesday from the country’s National Assembly, the fourth time he has requested deree powers during his 12-year presidency.

The unexpected request, which comes less than a month before a new more opposition-based legislature begins, has brought a fresh wave on tension between Chávez and his critics.

“This is an attempt by the government to minimize the impact of the new General Assembly,” said Leopoldo López, one of Venezuela’s leading opposition politicians, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The request was officially made by Vice President Elias Jaua and lawmakers voted in Chávez’s favor Tuesday, with a final vote on the proposal expected later this week.

The decree powers are intended to push through tax increases and other measures in the aim of  helping the country recover from torrential rains that have wiped out crops, destroyed bridges and highways and left 130,000 people homeless, Chávez said.

Opposition members said Chávez’s request raises questions about whether he will agree to hand over power should he lose 2012 national elections.

Dozens of Chávez opponents gathered outside the legislature Tuesday to protest the measure, with one opposition politician quoted as saying the president is consolidating himself as a dictator.

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