Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles announced today that more than two million Venezuelans had signed a petition to begin the recall referendum process against Maduro, well over the approximately 195,000 signatures required by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE).
The signature drive – which is the firs step in the recall referendum process – began on Wednesday, and was scheduled to last thirty days. However, tremendous turnouts at signing stations throughout the country ensured that the signature goal was surpassed on the first day.
Capriles said that given the impressive figures, the opposition would stop collecting signatures now and would wait for the CNE to give the go-ahead for the next step in the recall referendum process. That step requires the collection of four million signatures, and cannot begin until the CNE verifies the validity of the signatures collected in the first stage.
La Patilla reports that it is possible that the opposition will hand the forms in to the CNE for verification as early as Monday, well ahead of the 30-day limit placed on the drive by the electoral body.
Maduro: Rodriguez Will Check Signatures “One by One”
Maduro gave a speech earlier today in which he announced that he was playing the mayor of the Libertador municipality, Jorge Rodriguez, in charge of verifying all of the signatures collected by the opposition.
El Universal has a video of Maduro’s comments, which you can see here, along with my translation below:
Maduro: … and, well, the Consejo Nacional Electoral – through some political groups – handed over a bunch of forms. I’ve assigned a special team from the Homeland Congress from the Gran Polo Patriotico [the name of the PSUV deputies in the National Assembly] and from the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela [PSUV], which will be coordinated by Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, so that when the time arrives they can examine all of the lists [of signatures] one by one, which the oligarchy and the right-wing will hand in [to the CNE].
One by one. So that we can adhere to the legal framework – right? So we can adhere to the legal framework.
It is not immediately clear by Maduro has hand-picked a team of PSUV politicians to verify the signatures, when the entire recall referendum process falls under the administration of the Consejo Nacional Electoral.
Mall Closes Due to Blackouts
Sambil Maracaibo, a large shopping mall in the capital of Zulia state, has been forced to shut its doors after CORPOELEC, the state-run energy company, refused to provide it with any more electricity due to the mall’s high energy consumption. The company that operates the mall made the announcement through Twitter earlier today.
The shutdown of the mall means the loss of 2,500 jobs spread across 322 stores.
It is not clear when CORPOELEC plans to restore power to the mall.
Colombia Cries Foul Over Maduro’s Comments
Maduro said during a speech yesterday that the energy crisis in neighbouring Colombia was much worse than that in Venezuela, to the point that the country is forced to ration electricity for 12 hours a day.
Colombia has reached rationing levels that last 12 hours a day. 12 hours a day. Their dams have run dry – really, really dry. Not even a drop of water. They’re getting better now.
Today, Colombia’s former Minister of Mining and Energy Amilkar Acosta, shot back at Maduro, and explained that Colombia’s energy situation is not so grim:
We saw hints of rationing – the specter of rationing showed itself a few times – but thankfully the rainy season has arrived.
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