I was browsing Global Competition Review and I found out that Venezuela amended its Competition Law this week. The headline was pretty shocking: “Venezuelan antitrust law to allow expropriations”. Besides excluding the state-owned companies from the antitrust jurisdiction, the new legislation would “serve the transition to socialism”.
Interestingly, yesterday I was re-reading an old Brazilian piece of law which was in force in 1945. Believe it or not, it was the first Brazilian antitrust law: Decree Law N. 7.666, which created the Administrative Commission of Economic Defesa (Comissão Administrativa de Defesa Econômica), the great-father of the recently created CADE (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica”), also listed expropriation as one of the penalties for antitrust violations. By that time, the antitrust law was seen as a nationalist tool to protect national companies against the large international trusts.
In a rather derogative way, Decree Law N. 7.666 was nicknamed “Lei Malaia”, since it was also too harsh against the economic power. Following the fall of the Brazilian Dictator Getúlio Vargas, Decree Law N. 7.666 was revoked just three months it was passed.
The comparison was clear and made me ponder how each country can find different solutions and interpretations as to what is the purpose of antitrust law. Once, a professor of mine said that the “antitrust law was a protection of the capitalism regime against the capitalists”. I believe his overall opinion about the capitalists’ ethics was not so high, but the idea behind the statement continues valid. On the other hand, tt seems that the Venezuelan law made it clear that it is not intended to protect capitalism at all.