Venezuelan President Doesn't Waste Time, Puts New Decree Powers To Use With Economic Moves

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is taking advantage of newly granted emergency powers to extend his grip over the inflation-plagued South American nation.

Maduro on Thursday signed a decree limiting the profits of companies supposedly to ensure they don't overcharge consumers and another that gives the government greater control over imports, to make sure dwindling dollar reserves aren't misspent.

Maduro had promised to enact both measures in the run up to Tuesday's vote by congress, which granted him the authority to pass laws without consulting lawmakers for a year.

It's unknown how he'll continue making use of his new powers. Opponents say the thinly-disguised power grab will further weaken Venezuela's democracy after 15 years of socialist rule.

The president this month slashed prices on appliances to recover support eroded by 54 percent inflation and mounting shortages.

Meanwhile, the opposition led by former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles announced a protest on Saturday in 335 cities across the country, to voice their increasing frustration over the economic crisis.

The protest will take place ahead of the Dec. 8 mayoral elections, on which the opposition seeks to retain and expand its presence in major cities like Maracaibo, the second largest after Caracas, and Valencia, in the middle of the country.

"I think it will be a visible protest, I am not saying millions, oceans, rivers of people ... but it will not be easily concealable to the media”, said Vicente Gonzalez, analyst and law professor at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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