In what is being viewed as a poorly disguised power grab, Venezuela’s Congress has awarded President Nicolas Maduro yearlong decree powers to enact new laws without legislative approval for the purported purpose of reviving the country’s economy and battling corruption. The powers come right before municipal elections in December, which will be one of the first gauges of his popularity, and opponents believe he will use them to target the opposition. Maduro, who replaced Hugo Chávez upon his death, says his first two acts will be to create a state body to fix currency issues contributing to Venezuela’s shortages and negligible imports, and to limit corporate profit margins to between 15 and 30 percent. Meanwhile, under Maduro’s campaign against the “parasitical bourgeoisie,” electronics and hardware stores have been ordered to empty their shelves at cut-rate prices.
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