Faced with the necessity of addressing the economic crises set off by the effects of unilateral coercive measures, the Venezuelan government found a way to fight back against illegality, by approving and enacting an innovative piece of legislation that allowed the government to have tools to guarantee its economic defence. On October 12, 2020, the Constitutional Anti-Blockade Law for National Development and the Guarantee of Human Rights, proposed by President Maduro, was approved by the National Constituent Assembly and will be in effect as long as the blockade or the effects of the blockade persist.
As a Constitutional Law, it contains the highest rank according to Venezuela’s legal system, above lower rank dispositions, including organic laws, which makes it a robust legal instrument. It essentially seeks to defend Venezuela’s sovereignty, its resources and the rights of the Venezuelan people by allowing for measures that promote productive investment in strategic sectors and the participation of new actors in commercial and industrial activities of national interest. This strategy contemplates targeted and sectorial measures that grant capabilities and flexibilities so that productive alliances and investments can take place, increasing the country’s capacity to raise incomes and generate social well-being. The implementation methodology relates projects with ideal executioners, according to their technical and economic capabilities, as well as their willingness to participate in determined sectors. The new legal framework allows for processes to be expedited and the nation’s assets to be protected. Sectors such as basic industries, oil, gas, petrochemicals, mining, agriculture, agro-industry, the digital economy, and tourism are among those offering potential and advantages in Venezuela’s economy.
The Anti-Blockade Law established the International Centre for Productive Investment, which manages the portfolios of projects and potential allies, evaluates their viability and suitability, accompanies its execution and reports recommendations to the President, to the State Council, and to the country, in accordance to the Law and Constitution. Under this law, Venezuela now has a dynamic legal framework that allows the national government to take immediate measures to compensate the risks and damages caused by the unilateral coercive measures. The Anti-Blockade Law also contains specific dispositions that allow for adequate constitutional controls to be adapted to the conditions imposed by the blockade. This guarantees both the nation’s assets as well as the private investment.
Dividends and revenue generated for the State by the projects implemented under the Anti-Blockade law are destined to protect Venezuela’s model for social inclusion. For this purpose, these funds must be used primarily to:
• Develop a system of compensation for workers’ salaries in real terms, to guarantee the income of working families.
• Invest in the recovery and retention of workers’ benefits. The government can create mechanisms to restore the value of labour benefits.
• Strengthen the social protection system and policy by improving food subsidy programmes such as “CLAP”, strengthen the public healthcare system, and strengthen all social programmes (education, housing, etc.)
• Recover public services and public infrastructure affected by the illegal “sanctions” that have cut investment or impeded reparations or maintenance. This is a particularly important sector for investment.
• Promote the nation’s productive capabilities, those of the basic industries and of 17 areas identified as “engines” for the economy, making way for a general economic recovery in the country and selective import substitution.
• Promote science, technology, and innovation in order to strengthen a new and sovereign development model.
The Anti-Blockade Law also created the National Observatory on Unilateral Coercive Measures, with a real-time registry of the illegal sanctions, their impact and the evolution of the ongoing processes, allowing for the country to be informed and for the government to adapt and optimise policies in a timely manner. Likewise, since one of the deliberate effects generated by the coercive measures is the harassment and extortion of actors that engage with the Venezuelan government, the Anti-Blockade Law has confidentiality provisions aimed at protecting investors from these unilateral coercive measures. Venezuela also commits to supporting legal actions in defence of partners that may be threatened by the coercive measures.
Under the Law, strategic partners for the government will not only come from the private sector, but also from organised communities. This means that communes, grassroots organising structures which under the blockade were forced to skilfully enhance their productive capabilities, can now also partner with the State, to take on important production projects.
The Anti-Blockade Law has been key to Venezuela’s path to recovery. Even analysts that have made Venezuela’s economic failure part of their agenda have had to recognise Venezuela’s economic growth this past year and how the country has overcome hyperinflation. Sound and creative policies within a framework designed for protecting growth and social investment without sacrificing sovereignty, is testament to the resilience of the Venezuelan people and its government against the arbitrary and illegal imposition of coercive measures.