The MUD reacted today to an announcement by the CNE yesterday that the signature-verification process for the recall referendum would involve a series of steps that do not exist anywhere in the body’s own regulations.

The CNE’s new rules – which no one was aware of until they were announced yesterday – include scrutinizing the fingerprints corresponding to each of the 2.8 million signatures in favour of the referendum that the opposition collected by a team of forty-four fingerprint experts. The experts will check each fingerprint and disqualify those that used too much ink, too like ink, or are smudged.

Similarly, the CNE said that two calligraphy experts will examine each signature to make sure that no one person signed more than once.

This verification process is unprecedented, as it does not exist in any CNE regulation. As such, it appears to have been invented specifically to deal with the recall referendum against Maduro.

Vicente Bello, a MUD spokesperson, gave a radio interview today in which he explained the problems with the CNE’s impromptu regulations:

The issue is that, legally, it’s not necessary. What comes next is that [the CNE] must call on all citizens to personally verify that they signed the petition [by] providing their fingerprints for verification.

The CNE counts on sophisticated electronic voting machines to conduct elections. These machines are equipped with fingerprint-scanning technology that is able to verify a voter’s identity in an instant.

Bello said that the point of these new burdensome regulations is to buy Maduro time so that he can “come up with a miracle and annul the signatures”.

Chile, Argentina, Uruguay Call for Dialogue

The governments of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay issued a joint statement today calling for “urgent” dialogue in Venezuela between the MUD and the PSUV. The three governments also voiced their “brotherly disposition” to help Venezuela through the dialogue progress in any way that they can.

At the same time, the statement reads that Venezuela’s problems “must be resolved by Venezuelans themselves”, and that they are optimistic that the crisis in the country will be diffused peaceful:

[Venezuela] will find a way to honor its long democratic tradition and its historic compromise to peaceful, consensus-based solutions, in so doing discounting radical alternatives that distance it from democratic means.

MUD Reporters Arrested for Filming Lines

The National Assembly’s press office confirmed today that a press team belonging to the MUD was arrested in the Plaza municipality in Guarenas state today for filming lines in the town, presumably at a supermarket.

Apparently, the four-person team was filming a line when authorities ordered that they stop, and that they hand over all of their equipment to them. When the team refused, they were arrested.

Maria Eugenia Hernandez, the team’s reporter, and Anibeth Atencio, their driver, were subsequently released. The camarographer and his assistant, Luis Cordova and Manfred Garcia, respectively, have been charged and must now appear in court.

Coke Calls it Quits

Fortune reports today that Coca-Cola FEMSA, which is in charge of production of the soft drink in Venezuela, has shut down its operations in the country due to a lack of sugar.

The company will stop bottling in Venezuela since it believes that the sugar shortage is unlikely to be resolved in the coming months.

The full article, in English, can be found here.

Food Truck Looted in Catia

A truck allegedly belonging to the Polar company was looted in the Catia neighbourhood of Caracas today by hungry residents desperate for food. The truck was allegedly carrying harina P.A.N. (corn flour), a staple of Venezuelan cuisine.

Below, a picture of the event:

National Guard Fire [ALLEGEDLY] Tear Gas Into Supermarket in San Cristobal

EDIT: It is not entirely clear who fired the tear gas into the supermarket. While some sources claim that it was state security officers, others claim only that “individuals” were responsible for the act. It is not an established fact that the National Guard or National Bolivarian Police fired the tear gas into the supermarket.

A protest in San Cristobal, Tachira state ended resulted in National Guard soldiers firing tear gas directly into a busy supermarket.

According to El Pitazo, students demonstrating against the government in the vicinity of the Universidad de Los Andes in the city clashed with National Guard officers. During the clashes, some students ran into the Hipermercado Baratta on the Ferrero Tamayo avenue to escape from the pursuing security officials. The soldiers then fired tear gas into the supermarket in an apparent attempt to flush out the students.

As a result, dozens of innocent shoppers were forced to flee the supermarket in a panic.

Below, a video of the event, courtesy of @elsabonin:

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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