The National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela (ANC), totally controlled by Chavismo, approved on Thursday afternoon the so-called Anti-Blockade Law, a legal instrument designed to promote the entry of capital by evading international sanctions against the Government of Nicolás Maduro. The regulation, which seeks to endow the president and the Executive with even more powers over the constitutional and legal framework of the country, is probably one of the most important concessions of the Bolivarian revolution to private capital in its 20 years of hegemony.
At a time when the nation’s coffers have evaporated, the national industry is bankrupt and the nation is suffocated by debts, the law suggests a turn in the traditional economic postulates of Chavismo, seeking to attract capital that allows it to take oxygen to reverse a catastrophic economic contraction that has lasted six years. In some of its articles – which were not discussed in detail in the ANC session – it is contemplated, for example, that “when it is necessary to overcome obstacles or compensate for damages [de las sanciones], the Executive will proceed to inapply for specific cases those rules of legal or sublegal rank whose execution is impossible or counterproductive ”.
Unlike what has happened on other occasions, the Anti-Blockade Law has been questioned not only by the opposition, considering that it is a provision that sweeps away the Venezuelan legal system relying on spurious institutions, but also by figures of Chavismo and allies of Maduro, who has criticized her because she contravenes “the legacy of Hugo Chávez.” Allan Brewer Carías, one of the most experienced jurists in the country, went so far as to affirm that the law “is an eyesore.”
Among the critics is Elías Jaua, former vice president and member of the leadership of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). The Communist Party of Venezuela issued a statement in which it assured that the law “will deepen the national economic vulnerabilities in the face of its external aggressors, at the same time that it further shifts the weight of the crisis and the sanctions on the shoulders of the workers.”
With the implementation of this law, a faction of leaders was imposed that considers it necessary to promote a rapprochement with capital and break with the orthodoxy that has characterized Chavismo since its arrival in power, 20 years ago, to “save the revolution.” One of the best known leaders of this line is Tarek El Aissami, Minister of Energy and Petroleum and Vice President of the Economic Area, under whose leadership capital of Arab origin has been grouped together with Venezuelan businessmen.
“It is an instrument that will give a lot of discretion, opacity, to the executive to operate,” says Asdrúbal Oliveros, director of the Ecoanalítica firm. “I do not believe that expectations regarding a change in economic strategy should be exaggerated. The State will allow the increase of private influence in the economy to the extent that it sees fit, with the normative and interventionist instruments of Chavismo in place. An important part of the income that the country has already has black origin. The law should seek to promote concessions in the area of mines and hydrocarbons, changes may come there; and in hotels and tourism. It is likely to seek the landing of the private sector in the gasoline supply and marketing chains. ” Oliveros considers some partial areas of reactivation likely in a general framework that is equally depressed both economically and socially.
The economist Orlando Ochoa considers it probable that the law could attract Arab, Turkish, Iranian or Russian capital that triangulate their properties in other countries. And offer opportunities to some Venezuelan owners close to Chavismo. The measures adopted even open the door to the possibility of returning to some owners their assets expropriated during the wave of nationalizations by the Chavista government, most of which show serious deterioration. Ochoa comments that there is a significant risk that unknown capital will find in Venezuela where to be laundered, and warns about the serious risks of opacity that arise.
“Here there is a particular interest in reducing the power that the future National Assembly may have in the Venezuelan crisis,” says economist and financial advisor Francisco Rodríguez, “and also an intention to impose the narrative of the existence of a blockade as the sole responsible of this crisis “,” Populisms have that characteristic: they bankrupt economies, they run out of money, and then they have to go out to get more. I have no doubt that, if Maduro did not have the current economic sanctions, he would have gone to the International Monetary Fund assuming a program of adjustments, “he added.