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Venezuela pro-government assembly approves law expanding Maduro's powers

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an event with the youth of Venezuela's United Socialist Party in Caracas, Venezuela, June 22, 2020. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s pro-government National Constituent Assembly on Thursday approved a law allowing President Nicolas Maduro to confidentially sign new oil deals with private firms and foreign nations, in response to U.S. sanctions.

Maduro last week delivered the “anti-blockade” bill on Tuesday to the assembly, a parallel legislature he created to bypass the opposition-controlled congress.

“We can provide President Nicolas Maduro with a legal instrument to continue fighting, confronting the blockade,” said Diosdado Cabello, the assembly’s president and the vice president of the ruling Socialist Party.

The law will allow changes to the ownership of joint ventures between state oil company PDVSA private companies, but does not say what percentage of participation PDVSA would have in future joint ventures.

Maduro’s government faces severe financial problems because of the fall in oil production and limitations on the export of crude under the sanctions.

Reporting by Mayela Armas, writing by Brian Ellsworth; editing by Grant McCool

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