In early October, Venezuela’s illegitimate National Constituent Assembly (ANC, in Spanish) handed dictator Nicolás Maduro a law that enables him to omit or “disregard” compliance with other laws for the purpose of circumventing sanctions imposed by the international community and bolstering foreign investment.
The so-called Anti-blockade Law for National Development and the Guarantee of Human Rights has the explicit purpose of “countering, mitigating, and reducing” the “harmful effects generated by the imposition” of sanctions from the United States and other countries, according to Article 1.
Article 19 enables the Maduro-led executive branch to “disregard” legal regulations, in order to “overcome obstacles or compensate for damages” attributed to sanctions, or to “mitigate” international measures “that affect the inflow of foreign exchange.” In Article 26, the Anti-blockade Law contemplates privatizing PDVSA subsidiaries including PDVSA subsidiaries abroad.
Maduro has been promoting this law in meetings he held in early November with members of the Chinese state-run investment company CITIC Group, and later with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“The Anti-blockade Law is a great bet for novel, highly creative partnerships to develop the real, true economy and the wealth that Venezuela can generate and needs,” Maduro said during his meeting with Asian businessmen, state-run TV station Venezolana de Televisión reported.
However, the National Assembly, led by lawmaker Juan Guaidó (recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by 60 countries), approved an agreement in mid-October that calls the Anti-blockade Law “non-existent and ineffective” and urges an investigation into those who passed this legislation.
“Any person, natural or legal, who makes agreements or negotiations under this paralegal instrument of factual application could be involved in crimes against the nation,” the Parliament warns.
Conindustria, a trade association for Venezuelan industries, also rejected the law. The association issued a statement on October 19, warning that now the executive has “unlimited power, bypassing all the regular resources and channels that impose limits and controls, placing itself above the current legal system, which may even be discretionally disregarded.”
Against the constitution
Venezuelan lawyer Carlos Figueredo Planchart, a specialist in comparative international law and former legal advisor to several national and international banks, described the Anti-blockade Law as “unconstitutional.” He warned that the regime imposed it to facilitate their actions once they gain control of the legislative branch, after the December 6 elections.
“Many contracts require the National Assembly’s legitimate consent, and with this law they want their international partners, such as China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, to believe that they will get it,” he said.
He explained that the purpose of the regulation is to “build trust” among governments that are close to Maduro and businessmen who amassed wealth during the Chavist era, so that they invest in the collapsed national economy.
“This law will be a source of money laundering. That is one of the most serious things […]. And they believe this will generate new ways of hiding money,” he warned.
Carlos Tablante, former president of the National Commission against Illicit Drug Use (CONACUID, in Spanish) said that, prior to the parliamentary elections, the Anti-blockade Law intends to “expand the base of political support” for the regime among business sectors that, so far, were able to remain neutral or close to the opposition.
He said that the regime wants to “legalize gold and diamond extraction in the Mining Arc in order to carry out, with that legal varnish, transactions that have been restricted by the sanctions.”
They will attempt to do all this without transparency, something the expert says they are trying to ensure with the ANC-approved regulation.
“They want to make the entire administration opaque and turn disclosing commercial operations related to the objectives of this law into political crimes and treason,” he said.