Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Venezuela: President Requests Decree Powers Amid Rift with U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro urged the federal legislature to grant him decree powers in response to a new series of sanctions imposed by the White House.

In a televised speech on Tuesday night, Maduro formally requested the National Assembly to approve an Enabling Law “to defend the peace, sovereignty and full progress of Venezuela against the threat from the U.S. government.”

Maduro rejected the claim made in the executive order the U.S. President Barack Obama signed on Monday alleging that the “situation in Venezuela...constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy”.  

“Nobody believes that Venezuela is a threat against (the U.S.) becuasie it is false and a lie,” Maduro declared in front of a packed congressional chamber. He said that while the Venezuela is “noble (and) pacifist” in the U.S. commentators appear on cable news channels "pretending to love democracy but approve genocide".

The White House action targeted seven current and former officials affiliated to Venezuela’s security apparatus including the director of the national police, the inspector general of the armed forces and the head of intelligence. The seven are barred from entering the U.S. and their assets are frozen after U.S. authorities accused them of human rights abuses and corruption.

The Venezuelan president thanked leaders from other Latin American countries who came to his defense. The presidents of Ecuador and Bolivia as well as ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro gave their support to Maduro.

Not all Latin American figures have been so steadfast in favor of the Venezuelan government but neither were they fully in favor of the sanctions. Organization of American States chief José Miguel Insulza disagreed with labeling Venezuela as a national security threat but called on the regional body to analyze the diplomatic rift between the U.S. and Venezuela. The head of the UNASUR bloc, Ernesto Samper, criticized Obama’s executive order but also warned against Maduro’s push for decree powers.

“Venezuela is not a threat to any other country but it is the policies of the Venezuelan government that threaten the rights of our people to live in peace” mentioned a statement from Venezuela’s main opposition alliance.

“Much like we reject any grievous interference from Cuba we also do not accept involvement from any other (country). This is a struggle by Venezuelans for Venezuela,” the statement added.

Will the European Union soon follow the example of the U.S. government and impose new sanctions on Venezuela? Not quite yet according to an E.U. representative:
"We are currently not considering restrictive measures," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said but called on the South American country to address its political, economic, social and security problems.

"We‘ve already conveyed our disquiet at the continuing polarization of views and the multiplication of violent incidents in the country, and we have called [on] the government, the opposition leaders, students and Venezuelan civil society to work together to engage in a peaceful dialogue and reject violence," Kocijancic said. 
Venezuelan officials have accused the U.S. of helping the opposition to plot a coup against the Maduro regime. Authorities in Washington have rejected the rumors and instead blamed the government for searching for scapegoats amid a growing economic crisis and low approval ratings for Maduro.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews (Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro criticized new sanctions raised by the U.S. on Monday).

Online Sources – Europe Online Magazine; El Universal; Semana.com; Xinhua; Buenos Aires Herald; La Prensa

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