Venezuela Expands State of Exception Citing Threats of Foreign Intervention

By Lucas Koerner

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Friday the expansion of the country’s state of exception in a bid to confront a deep economic crisis as well as national security threats posed by international right-wing forces.

The Constitutional State of Exception and Economic Emergency Decree will renew the powers granted to Maduro in January by the Supreme Court as part of an economic emergency decree, as well as authorize new ones with the aim of “protecting the people from the constant attacks of the national right-wing allied with the imperialist powers”.

Under the 60-day executive order, the armed forces (FANB) will amplify its role in combatting organized crime and external threats in addition to participating more actively in the distribution of food and medicine. According to the Venezuelan press, the FANB have also begun military training exercises.

The new decree will moreover strengthen the Local Production and Distribution Committees (CLAPs) charged with distributing food directly to households via communal councils.

Also included in the document is a provision to incentivize greater private sector participation in national production and allocate further state funding to guarantee supplies of essential goods.

As outlined in the Venezuelan Constitution, a state of exception authorizes the government to temporarily suspend certain constitutional protections except those guaranteeing “the rights to life, prohibition of torture or solitary confinement, the right to due process, the right to information, and all other intangible human rights”.

The decree after former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe recently made comments calling for armed intervention in Venezuela.

“The [Venezuelan] army has to protect the opposition, or just think… Which democratic country is willing to put its armed forces at the service of the protection of the Venezuelan opposition? That tyranny doesn’t listen; that tyranny must be confronted with all of our energy,” he stated upon leaving the Concordia Summit at Florida’s Miami Dade College on Thursday.

Uribe is notorious for his close links to paramilitary death squads and his government is linked to the “false positives” scandal.  The latter saw the military execute thousands of Colombian civilians under the pretext that they were guerrillas in order to receive financial benefits and promotions.

The former president also has close ties to the more radical factions of the Venezuelan opposition, including the far-right ex-student leader Lorent Saleh, who was extradited from Colombia and is being tried in Venezuela for his role in a terrorist plot to place bombs on key bridges and assassinate grassroots leftist leaders.

At the conference, Uribe was accompanied by a handful of other former heads of state, including Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, Bolivia’s Jorge Quiroga, Fernando de la Rúa from Argentina, Mexico’s Vicente Fox, and Andres Pastrana of Colombia.

Together the ex-presidents signed a statement denouncing what what they termed “economic, social and governance deterioration” in Venezuela and accusing the Maduro government of “developing actions of political persecution against members of the National Assembly and opposition leaders.”