Venezuela declares state of emergency

Caracas, May 17 (IANS) The Venezuelan government on Monday proclaimed a 60-day nationwide “State of Exception and Economic Emergency,” responding to ever more acute shortages of basic goods and an opposition bid to recall President Nicolas Maduro.

The leftist president announced last Friday that he had decided to proclaim a state of exception to give himself “sufficient power” to address threats such as an ostensible coup plot involving former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a bitter foe of Maduro and his late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, Efe news agency reported.

Under the emergency declaration, officials can use police and the military to ensure “the correct distribution” of necessities.

The government is also authorised to spend money and enter into contracts without approval from congress, now controlled by the opposition.

Authorities likewise enjoy broad discretion to implement measures aimed at ensuring “the maintenance of public order in the face of destabilising actions that seek to intrude on the internal life of the country or in its international relations,” in the words of the official proclamation.

The decree instructs the foreign ministry to scrutinise agreements made by Venezuelan individuals and organisations with foreign entities and to suspend those deemed to have political or “destabilising” goals.

The emergency decree is legally subject to the approval of the National Assembly and the Supreme Court.

–IANS

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