Chavez: Democracy 'under way' in Venezuela

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Friday insisted his country is democratic, after lawmakers decided to give him greater powers, O Globo reported.

"There is a complete democratic process under way in Venezuela," said Chavez, in Rio de Janeiro to attend a regional summit.

Venezuelan lawmakers Thursday approved a bill that would allow Chavez to rule by decree for 18 months.

The Venezuelan leader said the new law was necessary for Venezuela to pass sweeping nationalization laws for several public sectors -- including electricity, telecommunications and oil.

Chavez was re-elected last month to a second six-year term on a promise to complete his proposed socialist revolution.