Venezuela’s government on Monday gave itself wide powers over security, food distribution and energy supplies under a decree establishing a state of emergency for at least 60 days.
The measures, published in the government gazette, set out in detail an announcement President Nicolas Maduro made last Friday as his administration struggles with a capsizing economy.
Venezuela is facing hyperinflation, food and electricity shortages, and political confrontation between the unpopular Maduro and a new opposition-led parliament seeking to oust him through a referendum.
Maduro’s decree gives soldiers authority to keep public order and distribute and sell food.
Local civilian committees currently tasked with handing out food will also be authorized to help the army and police “maintain public order and guarantee security and sovereignty in the country.”
Individuals, companies or non-governmental organizations in Venezuela with links to foreign entities are to be put under scrutiny and their finances frozen if deemed to be political or destabilizing.
The text also permits taking control of basic goods or services — opening the way to expropriations of companies.
It allows all “necessary and urgent means” to restore and maintain sources of energy.
And, to conserve electricity, it also gives the government the right to cut the workweek in the private sector, as it already has done with the public sector, whose employees now work just two days a week.