Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Stacy Rentner


In November 2001, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez Frias unilaterally enacted the new Decreto con Fuerza de Ley Organica de Hidrocarburos (Hydrocarbons Law), which completely restructured the oil industry, the driving force of Venezuela's economy, for the first time in nearly 60 years. This single-handed restructuring of the country's central industry outraged Venezuelans and proved to be the final blow to Chavez's already waning popularity. In an attempt to convince Chavez to step down from the presidency, Venezuelan oil workers initiated a strike, which was accompanied by a national work stoppage in all areas of the economy. February 2003 marked the end of the nine-week national strike that proved to be the most damaging in Venezuela's history. This note analyzes the Hydrocarbons Law-including its provisions and the legal procedure pursuant to which it was enacted-against the background of the political and economic situation of Venezuela.