One of the rectors of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Luis Rondon, said today that contrary to what other CNE rectors have alluded to, there is only one way for a signature in favour of the recall referendum against Maduro can be invalidated: if the elector who made the signature does not personally show up to verify their signature when the CNE announces that next step.

Rondon appears to have been referring to the news from CNE head Tibisay Lucena last week, who made the surprise announcement that teams of fingerprint and handwriting experts were currently scrutinizing signatures for irregularities. On the matter of fingerprints specifically, the scrutinizing process could invalidate a person’s signature if the accompanying fingerprint used too much ink, too little ink, or if its blurry. In all, signatures will pass through a five-step verification process, the existence of which is not stated in any regulation.

Rondon also said that he was convinced that the referendum against Maduro could take place before the end of the year:

To me, it seems perfectly plausible to hold this process at the end of October (…) there is no technical or legal issue that makes me believe that the recall referendum cannot take place this year.

Out of the CNE’s five rectors, Rondon is widely recognized as being pro-opposition, while the other four are decidedly pro-government.

NA Will Ask CNE to Publish Referendum Schedule

National Assembly MUD deputy Julio Borges announced today that the national legislature will ask the CNE to formally publish a timetable for the recall referendum in order to put an end to the weeks of opacity and confusion over what exactly the recall referendum process looks like, and when it can take place.

Borges said:

Today, we will approve a request, an emplazamiento [I think this means “demand” or “to compel”] to the CNE rectors (…) to publish a schedule in the coming days on the activation of the recall referendum. They cannot block off the exit to this crisis.

The MUD contends that the CNE is deliberately delaying the recall referendum process against Maduro with the hopes of perhaps not holding the referendum at all.

Borges also spoke on last week’s ruling by the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) banning demonstrations in the vicinity of the CNE building, saying that he considers it an affront to the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and protest, and that:

The ruling by the TSJ which bans protests does not exist for us. The one causing violence is the government, which stops Venezuelans from exercising their rights. We will continue to protest in the streets.

Allup: “Helping is not Meddling”

National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup differentiated today between any foreign aid that Venezuelan might receive and “meddling”, the world the national government tends to use when any entity outside of the country makes comments about Venezuela or offers help.

Allup made the comments on the occasion of Spanish legislator Albert Rivera’s visit to Venezuela. Allup said:

We’re letting our deputy friend [Rivera] know that we welcome any help and any kind of contribution to help solve the serious political, economic and social problems that we have (…) helping is not meddling.

Allup also pointed out that the severe crisis affecting the country would not be solved with a single election – hinting at the recall referendum process against Maduro – and reiterated the opposition’s commitment to achieving change in the country only through constitutional and democratic means.



NA Will Ask Podemos For Report on Venezuelan Money

The National Assembly announced today that it would ask the Spanish political party Podemos for information about how it spent the millions of Euros that the PSUV clandestinely gave the party over the a period of years.

The money – which Podemos received in secret, since Spanish law forbids political parties from receiving foreign funding – came out of public funds and must therefore be held to account by the legislature, opposition deputy Luis Florido said today.

Govt’s Military Games Cost $20+ Million

Military sources told El Nacional that this past weekend’s military exercises in Vargas state cost anywhere between $20-26 million, based on an estimate of a soldier’s daily wage and official figures on how many soldiers took place in the weekend’s drills.

Retired General Aparicio Ramirez told El Nacional his thoughts on the purpose of the drills:

It was a smoke screen to show that Nicolas Maduro has the support of the Armed Forces [and to] intimidate the people. The exercises included elderly militiamen without any training, and police officers who are only allowed to safeguard the citizenry according to the constitution [that is to say, they are very different from soldiers].

Ramirez lamented the fact that, as he sees it, the government chose to spend money on military drills “while children are dying in hospital due to a lack of supplies, and there’s no medicine for the elderly“.

Corn Flour Price Jumps 10x

Late yesterday afternoon, the national government announced that the price of corn flour – the most iconic of Venezuelan staple ingredients – would increase by ten times effectively immediately. A kilogram of corn flour has gone from costing Bs. 19 to Bs. 190.

The price jump represents an increase of 900%, and comes as good news for the country’s corn flour producers, who had been asking the government for months to increase the selling price of the good in order to help them cut their losses. IN march of this year, the Asociacion Venezolana de Industrias de Harina de Maiz [Venezuelan Association of Corn Flour Industries] (VENMAIZ) asked the national government to increase the price of the kilogram of corn flour to Bs. 115, to allow them to cover their expenses.

At the time, VENMAIZ had said:

On average, every kilogram of precooked corn flour sold at the regulated price of Bs. 19 [results in] a loss of Bs. 76.55 for the industry. Also, this has created an enormous distortion in the value of the product in the market which negatively impacts the consumer.

In Venezuela, the national government regulates the prices of many basic goods and necessities. These regulated prices often force producers to sell their products at steep losses, driving many businesses bankrupt. The shortages that occur as a result of this policy in turn fuels a black market for scarce goods, where basic necessities – such as corn flour – sell at exuberant premiums.

The last time that the price of corn flour was adjusted was in February 2015.

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