Earlier this week, MUD insiders leaked that the opposition bloc would seek to have Maduro removed from his post as President of the Republic through three different strategies: a recall referendum, an amendment to the constitution reducing term limits, and constant pressure through peaceful demonstrations for him to resign. Today, the head of the bloc, Jesus Torrealba, officially confirmed this as the opposition’s strategy to remove Maduro from power.
Torrealba spoke at a press conference in Caracas earlier today alongside other opposition figures, and called on “all the people to mobilize” to remove Maduro from office. Torrealba framed today’s announcement in the following way:
We’re not only going to change the president: we’re going to change the government (…) the [MUD] has taken the unanimous decision to apply all of the mechanisms for change. If the government continues it irresponsible practices, we will not hesitate to activate a constituent [assembly] process. We will initiative the recall referendum process, and we will approve an amendment to the constitution [that the people want] in order to reduce presidential term limits and in so doing have presidential elections this year.
The timeline and mechanics of the MUD’s multi-front strategy are outlined below:
- Recall Referendum: A fairly complex process that requires the collection of signatures to hold the referendum. On the actual referendum, more people must vote to remove Maduro from office than voted for him in 2013. If the process begins immediately and does not meet any significant resistance from the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), the recall referendum could happen as early as October of this year.
- Constitutional Amendment: The Venezuelan Constitution currently limits presidential terms to six years. The MUD would reduce the limit to four years, which means that Maduro’s term would end in 2017. This in turn means that presidential elections would have to be held this year, probably in December.
- Pressure to Resign: Any sitting president can resign at any moment for any reason, which would trigger presidential elections. The MUD will continue to mount pressure on Maduro – through nationwide peaceful protests – to demand that Maduro resign. This is an unlikely scenario, unless Maduro comes under overwhelming pressure from inside the PSUV and/or the National Armed Forces to quit.
- (Optional) Constituent Assembly: The MUD is presenting the constituent assembly as the “nuclear option”. A constituent assembly could be called, the purpose of which would be to create a new constitution.
Torrealba assured the media that “change is coming, and no one will stop it”, and pointed to the increasingly unlivable reality for Venezuelans as the source of his confidence that the measures will have effect:
We can’t take this anymore. It’s unbearable. This is an answer to a national outcry. This planned route is not just a series of steps we want to take, it’s a proposal for social mobilization at the national level.
The first stage of the MUD’s call for national mobilization will take place this Saturday, March 12, in Caracas and other urban centres around the country. After announcing the date for the demonstrations, Torrealba suggested that an official call to mobilize might be redundant:
The people don’t need to be called out to the street. They’re already out on the street, and they’re indignant.
Vigils Continue for Missing Miners
Four days after reports began to surface that as many as 28 miners had been executed by corrupt state security forces as part of an organized crime war over mineral resources in Bolivar state, the families of the missing men from the town of Tumeremo continue to hold vigils and demand that authorities do more to locate their loved ones.
While the fate of the men remains unknown, testimony from alleged eye witnesses to the event continues to suggest that at least some of the men might have been murdered.Yesterday, Correo del Caroni published an article that contains new information regarding what may have happened last Friday near Tumeremo.
According to the article, criminal organizations fighting for control over mining in the area have been known to take over mining activities through violence. One such organization – operated by a man nicknamed El Topo – is suspected of being responsible for the killing of the 28 miners. The article cites “survivors” as claiming that at least some of the men might have been killed with chainsaws.
One of the survivors told the newspaper that he, along with an undisclosed number of other survivors, fled into the jungle only to re-emerge yesterday. Cristal Cañas, a relative of one of the missing miners, told the newspaper that one of survivors told her that the men that were not killed were forced to load the bodies of their murdered coworkers into the back of truck.
Another woman spoke to one of the survivors, who told her that he had seen how men tied her brother to the back of a truck and dragged him on the road as they drove away.
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