At a press conference held this afternoon, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), which is in charge of the administrative side of the recall referendum against Maduro, announced the next steps in the process.
The CNE said that signatures from 1% of the electorate it received from the opposition in early May must now be verified five different times before being audited. Once this process is over, the CNE will announce yet another period of verification – this one lasting five days – during which time everyone who signed in favour of the referendum must verify in person that they in fact did so.
The CNE announced that it would need 20 working days to complete the five rounds of verification and the audit.
The announcement directly contradicts the CNE’s own regulations on how to conduct a recall referendum. According to the CNE’s own rules, the verification process must take place within five working days upon receiving the signatures.
Had the CNE followed its own rules, the verification process would have ended on May 9, meaning that the recall referendum process would be well underway by now.
MUD: CNE Trying to Nullify As Many Signatures as Possible
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica denounced today that the CNE’s five-step verification is an invention created partially to nullify as many of the pro-referendum signatures as possible. Juan Carlos Caldera, the MUD representative at the CNE, estimated that the organization could throw out as many as 800,000 signatures through this process.
According to Caldera, the CNE might disqualify signatures for relatively trivial issues. For example, the CNE could nullify as many as 100,000 signatures made by people in a state other than the one in which they reside; as many as 300,000 signaatures could be thrown out for not being legible enough.
Caldera also said that the five-step verification process is wholly unnecessary, and was created to delay the process for as long as possible. Caldera also explained that it makes little sense to ask the electors to provide their fingerprints when signing the form, and to then ask them to confirm their fingerprint with a biometric scanner at a later date. What would make more sense, Caldera explained, would be for the CNE to demand that electors “sign” in favour of the recall referendum with a biometric scanner, thereby shortening the process by as much as a month.
TSJ Declares Economic Emergency, State of Exception Constitutional
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), the nation’s top court, issued a ruling today in which it finds that Maduro’s declaration of state of economic emergency and a state of exception throughout all of Venezuela is constitutional. The same ruling found that the National Assembly acted illegally in its rejection of the decrees earlier this week.
Despite the fact that the National Assembly voted to reject Maduro’s decrees earlier this week, the TSJ’s ruling essentially provides Maduro with the justification to ignore the legislature’s decision.
Allup’s Head Bodyguard Arrested
Agents from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the Venezuelan equivalent of the CIA, arrested his head bodyguard and the National Assembly’s chief of security, Comoroto Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was intercepted by at least 12 SEBIN agents as he made his way back home to the Parque Central area of Caracas after today’s National Assembly session.
Allup reacted to the news of the arrest by suggesting that Rodriguez’s arrest is part of a harassment campaign that Maduro and the PSUV have mounted against the opposition. Allup said:
This is typical behaviour from that coward [Maduro]. Since he doesn’t dare [do anything to me], he persecutes the humble people who work alongside me.
While the reason for Rodriguez’s arrest is not yet clear, it is possible that it is related to comments made by Maduro earlier today at a PSUV rally in Caracas. During the rally, Maduro said that “an old torturer” from the Accion Democratica party – the party to which Allup belongs – had been arrested.
While Maduro did not name the man, he said that the arrest was in relation to the beating of a National Bolivarian Police officer by a group of opposition demonstrators yesterday on the Libertador avenue in Caracas. Maduro said that the “old torturer” had paid to have the officer, whose name is Dubraska Alvarez, beaten:
The intellectual author [the one who came up with the crime] who paid those terrorists who beat that woman officer has already been arrested. He was captured today. He will be judged and sent to a maximum security prison. He’s an old torturer from Accion Democratica. He’s been arrested. We ordered his arrest.
Mujica: Maduro “Mad as a Goat”
Former Uruguayan president and leftist icon Jose Mujica said yesterday that Maduro is “mad as a goat” as evidenced by his near-daily tirades against everyone he considers to be Venezuela’s enemy. Specifically, Mujica was responded to Maduro’s comment earlier this week that the head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, is actually an undercover CIA agent.
While Mujica said that he respects Maduro, he was clear to qualify the statement:
[Saying I respect Maduro] doesn’t mean he’s not mad. He’s mad as a goat.
Maduro: Yes, I’m Mad as a Goat
Maduro reacted to Mujica’s comments today at a PSUV rally in the Teresa Carreño theater with the following:
I’m not mad. Mad as a goat? Yes. Mad with love for Venezuela, for the Bolivarian revolution, for Chavez and the example he set. Yes, I’m mad as a goat. It’s true. He’s right. Mad with love, with passion.
Maduro Announces ID Cards for PSUV Followers
At the same rally, Maduro announced that the PSUV would begin a process of internal census with the goal of identifying and providing cards to all of its supporters throughout the country. The census will take place June 17-19. Maduro announced the measure by saying:
We are going to start to call a process of inscription, census and [giving IDs] to all of the homeland’s forces, from the PSUV and the political movements aligned to it. On Friday [June] 17, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19, I am calling for all of the people of Venezuela to participate, sign up, carnetizarse [receive IDs] and swear [to serve] in the battles to come, whatever they may be.
Maduro explained the need to strengthen the PSUV and the Bolivarian revolution, and that he considers the census a good way to go about doing that:
… we need to move to a process of inscription, a census, [to] organize all of the chavista patriots, the revolutionaries, the Bolivarians of Venezuela.
MUD Asks OAS To Apply Democratic Charter
The MUD officially asked the Organization of American States (OAS) today to invoke the democratic charter against Venezuela over the Maduro government’s ongoing assaults against constitutional and human rights in the country.
By applying the democratic charter to Venezuela, the OAS would temporarily suspend the country’s membership to the organization, until the violations against the rule of law by the government come to an end. The move would become the strongest condemnation of the Maduro administration by an international organization to date.
MUD National Assembly Deputy Luis Florido formally handed in the request to the secretary general of the OAS, Luis Almagro in Washington, D.C. Below, a picture of the event:
Zapatero To Mediate MUD, PSUV Dialogue
Former Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced today that Maduro and the leadership of the MUD have agreed to sit down to a dialogue that he will mediate.
Zapatero said that the dialogue will likely be a “long, hard, difficult process”, but that it was absolutely necessary to defuse the crisis in the country. He also said that both sides had expressed willingness to earnestly participate in the dialogue.
Zapatero said that among the issues that the two sides will discuss are the country’s economic crisis, including the chronic shortages of food and medicine.
Video Shows Hungry Venezuelans Rummaging Through Garbage for Food
DolarToday posted a video on its YouTube page today showing a group of people rummaging through garbage bags looking for scraps of discarded food to eat. The video shows at nearly a dozen people eating food directly out of garbage bags thrown on the street.
The video has been making waves on social media as a testament to the adverse conditions facing the country today, namely the chronic shortage of food.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Man Recording: Over there, over there! Look! Over there! They’re eating garbage! They’re eating the food that they threw on the ground. They opened the bags and they’re eating the food that was in the garbage. They’re eating it!
We’re starving in Venezuela! Look at this. My God. This is incredible. They’re eating the food from the garbage. And the government says it’s a lie! Look over there! They’re killing each other over the food they’re throwing out. The scraps from the restaurants. Here, here!
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