Hundreds protest new decrees
Riot police fired tear gas in Caracas to block about 1,000 people protesting the latest moves by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to consolidate his power. The demonstrators said a blacklist of opposition candidates and a series of socialist decrees were destroying what’s left of democracy.
Though the protest was small compared with past marches, there is a growing outcry over the barring of key figures from running in state and local elections in November.
Chavez opponents also are outraged by 26 laws the president just decreed, some of them mirroring the socialist measures voters rejected in a December referendum.
“We said in the referen- dum that we didn’t want that, and now he’s put it in the decrees,” said protester Josefina Bravo.
Chavez issued the decrees just before the expiration of special legislative powers that allowed him to make laws without National Assembly approval for 18 months.