Venezuelan military, militias start defensive drills, Maduro granted executive powers

A member of Venezuela's Boliviarian militias, whom President Nicolas Maduro has urged to mobilise in the face of new threats of

In response to US President Barack Obama’s use of an executive order to sanction Venezuelan authorities, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro requested decree powers to pass an “anti-imperialist law to prepare for all scenarios”. On March 11, a majority of Venezuela's National Assembly voted in favour.

The bill, which must be approved by 60% of the Assembly according to Venezuela’s constitution, will now move on to a second reading to obtain final approval.

In the past, the Obama administration has condemned Maduro for using decree powers to pass legislation, stating that “the separation of powers … are essential elements of democracy”. Yet Obama’s executive order labelling Venezuela “a threat to [US] national security” did not require approval from any legislative body.

Venezuelan law mandates that it must be specified to what end the enabling powers will be used. Maduro wrote the proposal together with deputy attorney general Reinaldo Munoz to preserve the country’s “integrity … [and] sovereignty, in the face of any circumstances that could arise with this imperialist aggression”.

In a March 11 address to the assembly, Maduro ordered Venezuela’s armed forces to drill in “defensive military exercise” in the coming days, and invited the popular Bolviarian militias and the general public to take part.

“Venezuela must be prepared, we must preserve [the country] as a land of peace,” he said.

Maduro promised to protect the integrity of parliamentary elections scheduled for December, saying: “If major events shake our country … parliamentary elections will happen this year whether the empire wants it or not.

“Let the people decide what will happen in this country. And we will go into it with the same position as always ... If we win, win, and if we lose, we lose and that's it ... Democracy, peace and the constitution is what we want.”

[Abridged fromVenezuela Analysis.]

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