Hugo Chavez dismisses criticism from OAS chief

A new law grants Venezuela`s President Chavez power to enact laws by decree.

Caracas: President Hugo Chavez on Saturday dismissed criticism by the head of the Organisation of American States, who expressed concern about a new law granting Venezuela`s leader power to enact laws by decree.

OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza said on Friday that the powers granted to Chavez by the previous National Assembly last month were completely contrary to the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter.

Insulza said the OAS probably would soon discuss the law, which will enable Chavez to bypass the congress for 18 months to enact laws affecting a broad range of areas.

Chavez called Insulza`s remarks an embarrassment. "I don`t even ignore you," he said.

He did not refer to similar criticism by US Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela, who called the law undemocratic and said it violated the OAS charter.

Chavez obtained the decree powers shortly before a new National Assembly took office with an opposition contingent large enough to prevent passage of some types of major laws that require approval by a two-thirds majority.

Venezuela`s Foreign Ministry also condemned Insulza`s comments, accusing him of supporting US policies of "intervention and domination" in Latin America.

Insulza and Chavez have had public clashes in the past. In November, after Insulza criticized the remarks of a top Venezuelan general, Chavez called the OAS an impotent and increasingly irrelevant organisation.

The OAS "will have to start disappearing," Chavez said.

Bureau Report

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