.- Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro, Venezuela said President Hugo Chavez's new law will turn the country into a âconstitutional democratic dictatorship.â
On Dec. 17, Venezuela's National Assembly approved President Chavez's request to rule by decree for 18 months. The additional power, the president argued, would help him address the damaging floods within the country.
The law comes just weeks before the new National Assembly, elected earlier this year, takes office.
During the elections on Sept. 26, Chavezâs ruling party only won 95 of the 165 seats in the Assembly, which is not enough to maintain a majority. Although three Assembly members from other parties are expected to vote with the ruling party, with just 98 votes, Chavez would still fall short of a two-thirds majority needed to get his measures passed.
The new law gives Chavez the power to enact laws on land use, the military and police forces, transportation and public services. He will also have greater control over the treasury and the tax code, urban and rural development, international relations and the emergency response to the flooding.
Archbishop Luckert told CNA on Dec. 20 that the measure is âan abuse and a violation of the Constitution,â as Chavez already has âmany ways in which he can do what he wantsâ to address the crisis caused by flooding.
The new law has turned the National Assembly into âa congress of political eunuchs who will not be able to do what they are supposed to do,â he stated.
The tasks of lawmakers are âto pass laws, to legislate - not to sit on their hands and act like useless fools or mute dogs in a congress in which they wonât be able to do anything,â the archbishop continued.
âPersonally I think they want to turn this new Legislative Assembly - which the ruling party will not have the majority - into a pack of dogs with no bark. They wonât be able to speak up when they should and they wonât be able to pass laws that will truly benefit the country.
âWhy do we want lawmakers who will have their hands tied?â he asked.
Archbishop Luckert said the new law has turned the country into âa constitutional democratic dictatorshipâ that is being set up under the cover of law. Venezuela is following the lead of Cuba, he warned.
âAll of these laws or norms are part of the Cuban package and the Cuban advisors are trying to impose them on Venezuela,â he said. âWe are going down the same path as the Castro autocracy that has afflicted that poor country for 59 years,â the archbishop warned.