After over 40 days of delays, the Consejo Nacional Electoral finally announced the dates for the next step of the recall referendum process against Maduro. The 1,352,052 Venezuelans who signed a petition in favour of recalling Maduro will have to verify their signature in person at a CNE verification station on June 20-24.
Lucena also announced the unprecedented option to withdraw one’s signature from the petition. This process will allegedly only be open June 13-17, and will require those who want to remove their signature to download a form from the CNE website.
The announcement was made by Tibisay Lucena, the head of the CNE, who also warned that she would suspend the recall referendum if certain conditions were met:
We want to emphatically stress this: if there’s any kind of aggression, alteration, or creation of violence, we will immediately suspend the process until order, tranquility and respect are restored.
CNE Throws Out Approximately 610,000 Signatures
The CNE’s signature verification process invalidated approximately 600,000 signatures for a myriad of reasons, including that of Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles.
Capriles says that the reason his signature was invalidated is because the CNE threw out an entire form – which contains 10 signatures – for some reason. Observers have decried the CNE’s validation process as nonsensical, absurd, draconian and obviously geared towards invalidating as many signatures as possible in the hopes of seeing an end to the referendum.
A form containing ten signatures could be disqualified for something as trivial as the cursive handwriting showing something like “Nicolos Maduro” instead of “Nicolas Maduro”.
Other high profile opposition figures whose signatures the CNE threw out include Lilian Tintori, Maria Corina Machado, Leopoldo Lopez and Delsa Solorzano.
An invalidated signature means that the person who signed the petition cannot take part in the verification process, essentially removing them from the recall referendum process at this stage.
A full list of the number of invalidated signatures per state can be found here, in Spanish.
CNE Bottlenecks Verification
The CNE’s announcement means that start on June 20, Venezuelans will have just a total of 28 working hour to validate at least 197,721 signatures in favour of holding a recall referendum against Maduro.
The CNE appears to have bottle-necked the process by announcing that it will only set up verification stations in each of the state state capital, meaning that there will only be 24 verification stations in the entire country. By contrast, there were 1,523 signature-collecting stations set up for the first step of the recall process.
In other words, these 24 stations must verify at least 197,721 signatures June 20-24, between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM, and 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM.
The fact that the verification stations will only be set up in state capitals means that many Venezuelans will have to travel tremendous distances to verify their signatures. State capitals are often not the biggest, most central cities in Venezuela. For example, the capital of MIranda state is Los Teques, a city that is accessible only by a handful of winding mountain roads.
In Bolivar state, a citizen who signed in favour of the referendum in the town of Las Claritas must travel 470 kilometers to the capital, Ciudad Bolivar, to verify her signature.
Allup on Lucena: “I Wish She’d Shut Up”
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup spoke on the head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, saying “I wish she’d shut up”. Allup made the comment in response to a press conference Lucena gave today in which she explained the details of the CNE’s signature verification process.
Allup said that despite the CNE’s best efforts, it was unable to invalidate the number of signatures it wanted to in order to have the recall referendum cancelled.
On the fact that it took the CNE more than 40 days to make an announcement that according to its own rules should have been made within five days, Allup said:
They [the CNE rectors] don’t want [the referendum] because they’re part of the government, which also doesn’t want it because it would mean they’d all be kicked out. Did there have to be so many problems, so many protests, repression, injured, for them to do what they have to do?
Allup also spoke on the government’s heavy-handed repression of peaceful demonstrations, saying:
This government doesn’t understand that this [the scarcity] won’t be solved by repression. The people are hungry. There is no food and no medicine.
One Dead in Caracas Looting
A truck driver was killed earlier today in Caracas as the truck he was driving was swarmed by looters in the La Vega neighbourhood. The truck driver’s identity still remains unknown, but a journalist at the scene reported that the man allegedly attempted to resit the robbers who stopped his truck, at which point he was shot in the face.
La Vega was the scene of unrest since early this morning. Violent confrontations between protesters and authorities throughout the day also resulted in injuries for a National Bolivarian Police officer and a National Guard soldier, both of whom were shot.
The video below appears to show the National Bolivarian Police officers in the moments after he was shot. In the video, you can see two of the officers advancing with the white water truck suddenly turn around and start running towards the cameraman. At the end of the video, you can see blood soaking into the uniform of one of the men:
Below, another video from La Vega showing National Bolivarian Police officers taking fire from unseen attackers:
Protesters Block Road in El Valle
Demonstrators blocked roads in El Valle, Caracas earlier today as they demanded that the national government do something to fix the crippling scarcity affecting the country.
The protest began outside of a supermarket in the area, near the Los Jardines subway station.
Below, a video showing the demonstrators standing in the middle of a road blocking traffic, along with my translation:
Woman Recording: The police can’t deal with the people anymore. They’re all riled up. They’re calling for reinforcements now to get this under control.
OAS Will Decide Stance on Venezuela on June 23
The Organization of American States (OAS) will decide at a meeting on June 23 whether or not it will invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter against Venezuela, which would essentially say that Venezuela is no longer a full democracy. The move would mark the clearest, loudest denunciation of the Maduro government’s systemic and continued abuses against human rights and law from any diplomatic organization.
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