The adjunct national coordinator of Voluntad Popular, Freddy Guevara, said that his party succeeded in securing 52,000 signatures calling for a constituent assembly after five hours of canvassing around the country this past weekend.

Guevara also addressed the CNE, which said that the signature drive was illegal since it was taking place without involvement from the organization. According to the CNE, any campaign that involves voting or collecting signatures has to happen under its watchful eyes. Guevara disagreed, saying:

The government does not have the political, moral or constitutional authority to stop the people from expressing its will through signatures. We haven’t even collected the first one million signatures and they’re already looking stop the people’s will. This past Saturday, a history journey began, and we will take refuge in the power of the people to continue the process of collecting signatures, which the constitution allows. 

Guevara referred to articles 347 and 348 of the Constitution of Venezuela, which state (emphasis mine):

Article 347: The original constituent power lies with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly with the objective of transforming the state, creating a new juridical order and drafting a new constitution.

Article 348: The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly can be taken by the President of the Republic in council with his or her ministers; the National Assembly, with a two-thirds vote by its members; Municipal Councils in council, with a two-thirds vote by its members; or by 15% of the voters registered with the civil and electoral registry. 

Notwithstanding the clear constitutional grounds for the signature drive, Guevara added:

If the CNE wants to suggest some legal and sensible prerequisite, we have no problem listening to that suggestion so that we may incorporate it into the process. This process belongs to the people, not them [the CNE].

Bloomberg: Maduro Cozies Up to Military

An article published in Bloomberg today titled “New Cars for the Army as Venezuelans Line Up for Food” outlines some of the more material realities Venezuelans face today.

For example, the article explains that Maduro has spent his 17 months in power pampering the armed forces, who now enjoy their own television channel and bank. This preferential treatment for the military, the author argues, is simply a way for Maduro to keep the army on his side. The article also points out that Maduro’s cabinet contains eight active or retired military officers, while Chavez’s cabinet in 2012 contained only five.

The article quotes Diego Moya-Ocampos, an analyst with IHS Country Risk, who says:

As the economy continues to deteriorate, so will the political and security situation and the armed forces will be key in deciding the outcome.

The article provides an excellent overview of some of the problems regarding the relationship between the executive branch and the military. I highly recommend you read it.

30+ Murders in Caracas This Weekend

At least 32 people were murdered in Caracas over the weekend. According to La Patilla, one of the victims was 34 year old Igor De Sousa, who was the manager of a pharmacy located in the Caurimare neighbourhood of the city.

De Sousa had pulled into the parking lot of the pharmacy when he was approached by a man on a motorcycle. The man shot De Sousa multiple times, killing him on the spot.

While Caracas is typically the most violent city in Venezuela, other municipalities are not strangers to violence. In the city of La Concepcion, Zulia state, five murders took place this weekend. One of the victims was Giordano Flores, a bus driver, who was killed during a robbery. Giordano’s widow, Sigis Reyes, said:

We live deep in the Arcoiris barrio. He was walking when he heard gunshots. He started running. They left him on the spot. They attacked him without mercy.

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