Jorge Rodriguez, the mayor of the Libertador municipality, said in a television interview today that he is certain that at least 40% of the signatures that the opposition collected in favour of a recall referendum against Maduro are fraudulent.
Rodriguez made the comments during Jose Vicente Rangel Hoy, a television show broadcast on Sundays on the Televen network that tends to lean heavily in favour of the government.
I calculate that 40% of more of the audited signatures are defective and they generate [sic] some kind of event that is distant from the rules.
Earlier this month, Maduro put Rodriguez in charge of a PSUV committee to oversee the signature auditing process.
However, verifying the signatures – that is, determining if they are valid or not – falls completely under the power of the Consejo Nacional (CNE). The CNE has yet to begin the signature verification process, so it is not clear how Rodriguez got his figure.
Rodriguez also said that 36 of the approximately 1.8 million signatures the opposition collected belong to deceased people. Rodriguez did not explain how he came to that number.
During the interview, Rodriguez also repeated a claim he has made before: that the opposition does not actually want to hold a referendum against Maduro. Even if it did, Rodriguez said, the referendum could not take place this year:
I’m completely sure that it is impossible that the recall can take place this year. How can the opposition hope to pass on to the next stage of the process if it hasn’t collected the right number of signatures?
For the first step of the referendum process, the CNE requires approximately 195,000 signatures.
Gov’t Might Remove Currency Controls
Vice-Minister of the Economy Miguel Perez Abad spoke in an interview today on a television show called Analisis Situacional, and revealed that that national government is planning to remove a currency exchange system that trades Bolivares at government-set prices.
We are close to liberar [literally “liberate”; meaning, allow foreign currency to be traded at market rates], to put into place the Exchange System, which is a type of exchange that obeys the behaviour of the market and recognizes other systems, because it meets two orientations: it captures foreign currency [and] administers foreign currency…
Currently, Venezuelans who want to trade Bolivares for foreign currency need to do so at government-set rates, or go through the black market.
Abad did not say exactly when this new initiative would come into effect.
Capriles Warns of Imminent Protest Action
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles warned today that unless the CNE does not announce the next step in the recall referendum against Maduro soon, the opposition would organize more protests.
If in the next few hours the National Electoral Council do not give us a response [about setting up] the verification stations for our signatures, we will mobilize towards all of the CNE [offices] in the country to find one.
Earlier this month, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued a ruling banning the opposition from demonstrating near the CNE headquarters in Caracas. Previous opposition attempts to reach the building have been frustrated by heavy police presence.
I am out of the province until Tuesday, so the updates will not be as thorough as usual until then. I apologize.
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