Well: the proposal for Enabling Law for Maduro is out. Some fellow bloggers wrote about that here and here. In a nutshell: there is nothing new in it, but it will be used mostly to emasculate elected local politicians from the opposition after the 8 December elections. Look at the map below. Those were the results for the 2008 elections by municipality. The blue areas where the opposition won are all the most densely populated areas with the exception of some in Lara (in the centre left) and Carabobo, in the Northern central region. We have good chances of adding several important municipalities, like Valencia and a couple of Lara. Maduro wants to use this new degree to neutralise the opposition specially in those areas.
The text for the Enabling Law is a badly written piece, with lots of commas in the wrong places, clumsy sentences and so on, but that is nothing new either.
Maduro wants to rule by decree for one year, just like Chávez did on several occasions. Maduro's excuse is that he needs special powers to fight corruption. This is in the year 14 of the self-styled revolution. Chávez ruled by decree for 4 full years of his almost 14 years of power, even though most of the time he did whatever he wanted anyway.
One thing that I find curious is that they needed to mention the finance of parties again. Opposition parties are already heavily scrutinized and the government uses anything it can to persecute dissenting voices. Parties no longer get money from the State for their votes, so they are supposed to get money from voters, but a lot of people are afraid of giving money to an opposition party unless they give cash. It's very hard to keep finances like that when the biggest bank note, the Bs 100, is worth officially just about €11 and in the black market less than €2.
Legislation on NGOs in Venezuela is already as strict as or stricter than in Russia. Media is getting to a similar level as in Russia. Newspapers such as El Universal or El Nacional are read by the better-off in the main urban centres or on line. We are not yet at the level of Russia with Novaja Gazeta only visible in some areas of Moscow or Peter but we are not far from that. And Venezuelans read very little. Bear in mind Venezuela has one of the slowest Internet connections on Earth. You couldn't see the US ambassador to Venezuela freely talking to a Venezuelan channel like the US ambassador talked in Dozdh' a few weeks ago.
Still, Venezuela is not a dictatorship for many abroad because dictatorships...well, they are supposed to be somehow different, like with Idi Amin or Gaddafi. And most people abroad somehow can see the autocracy in Russia but not in Venezuela and they cannot explain the concrete differences.
Now we have 53 days left for the municipal elections. Maduro will try to get the law next week and carry out all kinds of actions as he can before the elections but, most importantly, he will use the decree to take away yet more powers and finances from municipalities that elect opposition candidates. There will be more now than in the past 10 years and he wants to emasculate the elected members of the opposition as soon as possible. That's all.
And the rest of the world? If a country has a positive trade balance with Venezuela or chances of getting one very soon, it will remain silent.