In a press conference earlier today, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles laid out his vision for the end to Maduro’s term as President of Venezuela. Capriles stressed that the only viable solution to the crises affecting Venezuela would be for Maduro to leave office via a recall referendum, given his steadfast defiance to calls that he step down.
Capriles was also unequivocal in pointing out at that he does not consider violence to be justified at any step in that process:
The answer isn’t an explosion [of violent protests] or a coup. It’s the recall. This is the only way we Venezuelans have to get out of this crisis.
At the same time, Capriles announced a series of peaceful marches scheduled for this Wednesday, April 27, at the headquarters for the Consejo Nacional Electoral [National Electoral Council], the body in charge of organizing the recall referendum. The CNE has become the target of condemnation by the opposition in Venezuela, since the body has denied three requests by the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica to start the recall process, and has so far refused to make any kind of judgement on a fourth request. The CNE is accused of dragging its feet on the matter in order to keep Maduro in power.
Nodding to polling data that suggests that only 15% of Venezuelans support Maduro, Capriles told the media that Venezuela is no longer a country of two halves as it was in 2013 when he lost to Maduro in the presidential elections to replace Chavez.
Maria Corina Machado: Peaceful Protests Key
Opposition figure and former National Assembly deputy Maria Corina Machado issued a press release earlier today in which she renewed calls for peaceful protests to see Maduro removed from office.
Part of the press release reads:
We will not abandon the streets, because as we’ve seen in other countries, when citizens put pressure [on government] through mobilizations, institutions [and their instruments] are advanced and respected. We in Venezuela continue to claim these mobilizations as [a reason why] today we face an de-legitimized government whose time is running out. We at Vente Venezuela (…) call all citizens to mobilize and remain firm and peacefully organized in the streets to demand their rights for democracy and liberty.
Machado also said that she would join the march to the CNE headquarters in Caracas on Wednesday.
TSJ: Constitutional Amendment Won’t Come Into Effect Immediately
Aside from the recall referendum, the Venezuelan opposition planned to use their majority in the National Assembly to pass a constitutional amendment that would decrease presidential terms from the current six years to four. The move would mean that Maduro’s term would end in 2017 instead of 2019, which would trigger a presidential election in December.
However, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia – the nation’s top court – issued a ruling today saying that any amendment to the constitution would not come into effect immediately. Rather, the amendment would only apply to all subsequent presidential terms, meaning that if the amendment were passed today Maduro would still be allowed to see his term through to 2019.
In its ruling, the TSJ’s Constitutional Chamber ruled that any attempt to alter the “fundamental structure” of the constitution – as it believes this amendment would – is tantamount to “Constitutional fraud”.
Below, of the TSJ’s ruling:
The Constitutional Chamber concludes that using a constitutional amendment with the goal of immediately shortening the term of an [elected official], as is the President of the Republic, is Constitutional fraud. [The Constitution] includes an effective mechanism for that same goal, which is the recall referendum…
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup was quick to respond to the ruling. Through his Twitter account, Allup called the court’s magistrates “thugs”, and pointed out the curiosity that is the TSJ ruling on a matter that the National Assembly has not yet even put onto paper:
The shameless (Un)Constitutional Chamber doesn’t even wait for laws anymore. They just declare them unconstitutional without knowing their final wording.
Country Sees First of Forty Rolling Blackout Days
Today marks the first day of the national government’s plan to institute four-hour-long rolling blackouts around the country. The measure will be in place for forty days. While Minister of Electrical Energy Luis Motta Dominguez said that Caracas would be spared the measure, large sections of the city experienced prolonged interruptions in electrical service this morning.
The affected areas included Bella Vista, Vista Alegre, El Paraiso, La Yaguara, and the area around the La Paz subway station.
Sociologist: 75% of Venezuelans Living in Poverty
Lisette Gonzalez, a sociologist at the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello, told El Nacional today that at least 75% of Venezuelans do not earn enough money to cover their most basic expenses as a result of the country’s inflation rate, which is the highest in the world.
Gonzalez pointed out that the economic crisis is eating away at the middle and lower class, and that the prices of basic necessities rise at a rate that far outstrips that at which salaries increase.
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