Nicolás Maduro's dreams of becoming a super hero couldn't be further, however, he might be on his way to receive super powers, or special powers we should say, since Venezuela's national assembly has approved a measure in a 99-60 vote that would allow the leader to govern by decree for a period of 12 months. Although the bill still needs to be revised by a special commission and debated for a second time, correspondents do not expect significant changes to be made. The legislation, known as the "Ley Habilitante," or Enabling Act, would allow Maduro to bypass the country's top legislative body for a limited time. The national assembly is also able to strip the president of such powers should it vote to do so.
Maduro says he will use his new acquired power to tackle corruption and the economic crisis. He added that the Enabling Law has been sought in part to wage war against business opportunists, whom he has referred to as "parasites and speculators." However, critics fear he may use it to silence the opposition. The country is facing shortages of food and essential goods, power cuts and around 54 percent annual inflation. The government recently seized many high street shops selling its merchandise at reduced prices, because they were allegedly overcharging consumers. Venezuela also imposed strict controls over the sale of foreign currency to combat the growing black market of dollars.
The approval of the first reading of the bill comes after a member of parliament, María Aranguren, who defected to the opposition, was stripped of her parliamentary immunity on Tuesday, due to charges of embezzlement, conspiracy, and money laundering, and was replaced by government loyalist Carlos Flores. This is not the first time the Venezuelan government takes shelter under this measurement. Maduro's predecessor and ideological mentor, President Hugo Chávez, resorted to Enabling Acts four times during his 14 years in power.
"The only objective of this enacting is to persecute government critical voices in society, the NGOs and the political parties with different views," opposition member Eduardo Gómez Sigala told EFE news agency. "There is an institutional coup in Venezuela, there is no separation of powers," Gómez Sigala added. Although Maduro, has pledged to continue Chávez's policies, he does not have the same support enjoyed by his predecessor.