Venezuela crept closer to seeking Maduro’s removal from office today, as National Assembly deputy Julio Borges threw his support behind Henrique Capriles’ proposal to initiative a recall referendum against the president as soon as possible. Borges is one of the leaders of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, the official opposition bloc to the PSUV.
Borges explained that the status quo in Venezuela necessitates Maduro’s ouster, saying:
This economy is making us all starve, and there’s no opportunity for Venezuela to become the country of progress we all want it to be.
Borges said that “we will support Henrique Capriles’ proposal” to carry out a recall referendum with the goal of removing Maduro from power.
Two day ago, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles gave a press conference in which he said that it was “time for Maduro to go”, and proposed going the way of the recall referendum to remove him from office.
Road to Referendum Not Easy
Article 72 of the Constitution lays out the path to a recall referendum on any public official who is elected to his or her post. In order for the recall referendum to work, a set of relatively strenuous parameters must be met:
- The official’s term must have reached at least the 50% mark (Maduro’s term reaches this milestone this year).
- At least 20% of registered electors must sign a petition expressing their desire to recall the official and send it to the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), which verifies the validity of the signatures. There were 19,496,296 registered voters for the December 6 parliamentary elections, necessitating the collection of approximately 3,899,259 signatures. The signatures must be collected over a period of three days across signature-collection stations set up by the CNE
- Once the CNE has verified that the correct number of signatures has been collected, it has three days to announce the date of the referendum, which must occur within 90 days.
- In order for the referendum to pass, an equal or greater number of voters must vote to recall the official than the number of votes with which he or she was elected. At least 7,587,532 must vote “Yes” to successfully recall Maduro.
- At least 25% of registered voters must participate in the referendum in order for it to be valid.
The timing of the referendum is important as well. According to El Nacional, if Maduro is recalled before January 10, 2017, National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup would become the interim president until the CNE fixes an election date. If Maduro is recalled after that date, then Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz would serve out the rest of Maduro’s term, which ends in 2019.
PSUV Deputy: We’re Ready for Recall
PSUV deputy Elias Jaua said in an interview on Globovision earlier today that the party was ready for a recall referendum on Maduro, dismissing it as antics from “the most extreme sectors of the opposition”. Jaua also said:
Chavismo stands firmly by Maduro’s leadership and an end to his term [in 2019]. I don’t know why the opposition are so afraid of a recall referendum. It must be because of something. But we’re going to defend Nicolas Maduro’s mandate.
Jaua also said that even if the referendum did not happen and the opposition chose another method by which to seek an end to Maduro’s term, “the party will be ready for whatever process” the opposition decides to employ.
PSUV Deputy: Maduro Will Not Resign
PSUV deputy Hector Rodriguez echoed recent statements from the PSUV core earlier today, saying that Maduro was not even considering the possibility of resigning amid the worsening crisis in the country. In an interview with Union Radio, Rodriguez told Venezuelans to “rest totally assured that Maduro will not resign”.
Rodriguez also conceded that it was “normal” for some people to voice discontent with the government in a democracy, and that the Constitution had avenues that allowed individuals to affect change from their opposition.
Allup: TSJ Looking to Dull NA Powers
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup said yesterday that the nation’s top court, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), was looking for ways to nullify one of the National Assembly’s powers: that of summoning government officials to the legislature to answer deputies’ questions. Allup said that the reason why the decision had not been made public yet is that some of the court’s 32 magistrates are not in agreement with the ruling.
Allup also suggested that the 13 magistrates and 18 back-up magistrates that the PSUV approved in a marathon parliamentary session – the last in which the party was in power – can be overturned, since they were conducted “in an unconstitutional way”. One of the magistrates appointed had just lost in the December 6 parliamentary elections, where he had run as a PSUV candidate.
Bicentenario Workers Protest Gov’t Criticism
Workers from the state-owned Abastos Bicentenario supermarket chain protested today against recent comments from Maduro that the organization was “rotten”. In Anzoategui state, Bicentenario workers demanded an end to Maduro’s negative comments, while in Zulia workers protested outside the SEBIN and People’s Defender offices in that state to demand the release of workers arrested in a recent anti-corruption sweep.
Below, a picture of the workers protesting in Zulia state:
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