Pro-Chavez lawmakers deny the government plans to use the militias to break up street protests, saying the armed groups would be deployed only if Chavez declared martial law amid widespread political upheaval or natural disasters.
The predominantly pro-Chavez National Assembly approved the legislation Tuesday, giving a legal framework for a project begun by Chavez more than three years ago, when volunteers began receiving military training to prepare for what the leftist leader warned could be a U.S. invasion.
His critics expressed skepticism.
"The militias are for intimidating and terrorizing" those who take to the streets to protest against Chavez, said Stalin Gonzalez, an opposition politician who helped organize anti-Chavez demonstrations in recent years as a university student.
Source: Taiwan News