Hugo Chavez (photo, from lescommunistes.fr) has revoked a law that made sweeping changes to the intelligence services.
Venezuela’s president said he recognised he had made errors when proclaiming the law by decree. He added that it breached the country’s constitution.
The law obliged people to co-operate with intelligence agencies, and made refusal to reveal information punishable with up to six years in jail.
The law threatened civil liberties, Human rights groups said.
The new law was needed to protect national security, to prevent opponents of his socialist revolution from destabilising the country and his government, had argued Hugo Chavez.
But Mr Chavez decided to withdraw the law completely, in a clear U-turn. His socialist government would not accept persecution of anyone, he said, when announcing that the law would be completely re-worked.
Concerns were expressed by Human rights activists, political opponents and the Roman Catholic Church, about what they saw as a heavy handed, Cuban style attempt to control the population.
The document had been nicknamed the “Getsapo” law by cartoonists, who played on the words Gestapo and sapo, which translates literally as frog, but more colloquially in Venezuela as snitch.