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New laws could turn Venezuela into a Cuban-style country

President Hugo Chávez has the legal framework to finish implementing Cuban-style socialism in Venezuela with the introduction of a series of laws that redesign the country’s political and economic architecture, analysts said.

The experts added that a Chávez victory in next year’s presidential elections could seal the process.

Experts consulted by El Nuevo Herald said that a package of measures approved in a hurry in December by the previous National Assembly set up the basis for a profound transformation of the of the country.

“This is all about five pieces of legislation establishing a socialist state parallel to the constitutional, democratic and lawful current government and which would, in general, introduce a new social and economic regime in which private property would be subject to the rules set up by Communal power,” said Leonardo Palacios, tax professor at the University of Venezuela, who has been analyzing the reach of the new legislation.

Though these laws are designed to create a model parallel to the existing democratic order, Palacios said that those structures would eventually replace it, following a similar scheme used by Cuba and the former Soviet Union.

“In Cuba it was an extremely important strategy for many years, following the essential policy of Democratic Centralism in the Soviet Union, which establishes that absolutely everything is under a government plan,” Palacios said.

“Absolutely everything would be run by the government, everything having to do with production, distribution and even the way of consuming. That is what is being incorporated here in Venezuela,” he said.

The laws introduce the concept of Communal State and Communal Economy, under which the means of production as well as the country’s power structure would reside.

Venezuelans have already rejected that concept in the Chávez-sponsored referendum in 2007 to reform the Constitution. Introducing it now through the National Assembly raises questions about its legality, the experts said.

“President Chávez, in spite of having lost the 2007 referendum to incorporate that constitutional amendment, paid no attention to that vote’s mandate and simply went on with the process of ‘communizing’ Venezuela Cuban-style with a legislation package that is obviously unconstitutional,” said Pedro Palma, president of Venezuela’s National Academy of Economic Sciences.

“But this doesn’t matter here,” he added. “What matters here is the will of the president, period.”

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