Tibisay Lucena, the head of Venezuela’s Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), announced earlier today that the reason why the CNE has not begun the preparation process for a recall referendum against Maduro is that the MUD – which is spearheading the initiative – has failed to hand in all of the necessary paperwork. According to Lucena, the MUD has attempted to submit the required documentation three times, but each time the documents “lacked” elements to make them valid.
Lucena made the comments during a show on the Globovision network called Vladimir a la 1.
On the allegations that the CNE is purposely dragging its feet on the matter of the referendum in an attempt to delay or prevent it, Lucena said:
There hasn’t been any type of delay here. The paperwork arrived without all the requirements.
Lucena said that the MUD’s first request, filed on March 9, was not addressed to her specifically, so she was not able to formally provide a response. Lucena claims that the papers were instead filed with the Comision de Participacion Politica y Financiamiento [Political Participation and Financing Commissio.
If you want Tibisay Lucena to give you an answer, you should [ask] the Consejo Nacional Electoral.
According to Lucena, the second request was “very weak, very disjointed from the norms”, and that the third request, filed yesterday, suffered from the same deficiency.
Lucena also hinted at what the core of the problem might be: the fact that the MUD, a political organization, is filing the documents. She explained:
Political parties aren’t the ones who promote a recall referendum per se. That’s not in the Constitution. [It must be] a citizens’ initiative.
Lucena did not clarify what she meant by “citizens’ initiative”, or how that might be different from a political organization.
Interview Comments Cause Firestorm on Twitter
Lucena’s comments on Vladimir a la 1 caused furor on Twitter, as users reacted that what they considered to be Lucena’s brazen attempt to prevent the recall referendum from taking place.
The last segment of Vladimir a la 1 is devoted to reading tweets in reaction to the day’s interview. As Vladimir Villegas, the show’s host, began to read the tweets, Lucena said:
People on Twitter are kind of crazy.
Freddy Guevara Personally “Serves” Rafael Ramirez Investigation Papers
MUD National Assembly Deputy Freddy Guevara personally presented Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations Rafael Ramirez with a document explaining that he was under investigation by the parliament’s Permanent Comptroller’s Commission. Guevara traveled to New York City to deliver the documents to Ramirez in his office.
Rafael Ramirez was the president of PDVSA from 2004 to 2014. PDVSA has come under increasing scrutiny from international authorities stemming from a web of fraud, money laundering and embezzlement allegations involving its leadership. Ramirez is suspect of having been personally involved in the rampant corruption that is alleged to have taken place at the company throughout his tenure.
After presenting Ramirez with the notice, Guevara said:
Mr. Rafael Ramirez said over these past few days that he hadn’t been notified [of the investigation] even thought this is a public and notorious matter. So, we took the decision of coming here to his office to personally hand him the notification of the investigation into his term [as PDVSA president].
This investigation is centered on the irregularities linked with the inappropriate use of the PDVSA workers’ pension fund; the way in which resources destined for the Amuay refinery were handled, which resulted in serious damage to the installation; the administration of public funds that were placed into accounts at the Banca Privada D’Anodrra; fiduciary [violations] over the acquisition of titles and other financial instruments with funds from the state-owned company at the Banco Espirito Santo de Portugal; and the handling of contracts at PDVSA.
Guevara also said that when added up, the money missing through all of the publicly-known allegations of corruption at PDVSA total $10 billion dollars, and that not a single PDVSA official has been held accountable under Venezuelan law.
Venezuelans Celebrate First 3-Day Rationing Weekend
On Wednesday, Maduro announced that every Friday until June 6 would be a mandatory holiday for all public sector employees in order to force businesses to close with the goal of reducing electrical energy consumption. Today, government offices around the country closed for the first time under the measure.
The measure does not affect critical services, like schools and hospitals.
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup was quick to decry the measure, taking to Twitter to say:
In order to solve the electrical chaos, the genius in Miraflores [Maduro] proposes this holiday nonsense. To completely solve it, he should extend it for 365 days.
However, the national government is already claiming that the initiative served its purpose. Earlier today, Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez said that the preliminary results of the plan appeared to signal a success:
I’m letting the people know what the savings have been. Once our President Commander gave his speech on the show Con El Mazo Dando [on Wednesday], we’ve had a positive impact of 13% savings over 10$. That’s equal to 8 megawatts,
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