By Ingrid Bachmann
The National Assembly has expanded the powers of the Venezuelan Executive by granting the president decree powers and the authority to further regulate telecommunications, The Associated Press and Reuters report.
The government says decree power is necessary to allow the president to create “social” laws and respond to the devastation wreaked by deadly floods, but the law also gives President Hugo Chávez many other powers including, changing tax rates, land laws, and public security.
The Venezuelan Assembly, dominated by a government majority, is also working to pass a package of laws, including broadening the Social Responsibility on Radio and Television Law to include the Internet and changing the Telecommunications Law to give the Executive more power over the airwaves.
Critics include groups like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Committee to Protect Journalists, as well as the Venezuela-based National Journalists’ Guild and National Press Workers Union. They have warned that the legislative moves will harm freedom of the press and expression.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.