Opposition demonstrators met today with Luis Emilio Rondon, one of the rectors of the Consejo Nacional Electoral [CNE], to demand that the body formally announce the next step in the recall referendum process against Maduro. The meeting took place along the Libertador Avenue in Caracas, after a National Guard roadblock stopped demonstrators from making it to the CNE headquarters in the west of the city.
At the meeting, Rondon announced that the CNE had indeed accepted that the first round of the recall process – collecting signatures from 1% of voters – had been met. Rondon’s announcement means that the only obstacle stopping step two from beginning is the CNE’s unwillingness to announce the date for the event.
The head of the MUD, Jesus Torrealba, gave Rondon a document that called on the CNE to do its duty and see the referendum process through.
National Assembly deputy Julio Borges was at the demonstration, and he said:
Venezuela is a pressure cooker. It’s a volcano, and the government isn’t doing anything. This is why the most important thing is for us to be able to open a door towards the future with our votes. This is what we’re asking for: that the Constitution be followed, that electoral law be followed, that the regulations be followed, and that [the CNE’s] own schedule be followed.
Rondon said that the CNE would give a date for the next step of the referendum process on Monday “at the latest”. On Sunday, CNE president Tibisay Lucena said that the body would announce the date yesterday, but no such announcement came.
The CNE is headed by one president and four rectors. Out of the five heads, Rondon is the only one who openly sympathizes with the opposition.
Below, a video of the march in Caracas today:
At one point, the opposition figures at the rally organized a sit-in while they waited for rector Rondon’s arrival. Luis Florida (orange, right), Henry Ramos Allup (glasses, centre), Jesus Torrealba (blue shirt, kneeling) and David Smolansky (blue shirt, right) are pictured:
Capriles: Announcement on Monday or Lucena is Responsible for “Whatever Happens”
At the end of today’s demonstration, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles spoke on the importance of the CNE keeping its word this time. Speaking directly to Lucena, Capriles said:
Mrs. Lucena, we hope that you give us an answer on Monday. If you don’t give us an answer, you will be responsible for whatever happens in this country. The people don’t want violence, but their patience is running out. We insist – and will continue to insist – in a solution, but you know better than anything that if there isn’t a solution then anything could happen in our country. This is a very dangerous situation that no one wants to be in. That’s why we’re here asking for a solution.
Capriles made the comments at the end of the demonstration, which was also attended by National Assembly president Henry Ramos Allup, and National Assembly deputies Luis Florido, Freddy Guevara, Richard Blanco, Delsa Solorzano and Enrique Marquez, along with the mayor of El Hatillo, David Smolansky.
Prior to the start of the march in the early morning, Caracas found itself replete with National Guard and National Bolivarian Police officers. The head of the CNE in the west of Caracas was the scene of considerable activity by security forces, which included the presence of armored vehicles.
Below, a video of the demonstration in Caracas today, with a short clip of Capriles speaking to the crowd near the end:
Resolution Appears to Lay Groundwork for Labour Transfer
A resolution from the Ministry of Labour [Ministerio del Poder Popular Para El Proceso Social del Trabajo] published in the Gaceta Official No. 40.950 dated July 22 appears to lay the foundation for a mechanism that could see workers temporarily re-assigned to other jobs in an obligatory manner.
The resolution’s first point reads as follows (emphasis mine):
FIRST: A special obligatory, transitory and strategic regime is established for all work entities in the country, public, private, social or mixed, that contribute to the re-starting of production in the agricultural sector, which establishes mechanisms for the temporary insertion of workers in those entities which are the objects of special measures implemented to strengthen their production. To this effect, the constitutional and legal goals when it comes to security and the defense of the nation in its offensive against the economic war will act as fundamental guidelines with the objective of increasing and strengthening production in those work entities of social interest related to the agricultural sector.
SECOND: To carry put the previous point, [the government] must rely on workers in the public or private sector who posses the adequate physical characteristics and theoretical and technical knowledge in the different productive areas.
THIRD: The private and public sector entities are obligated to comply with the strict demands of this administrative act, to the effect that they must provide the required workers with the goal of increasing the productivity of the work entity [that needs or asks for workers].
FOURTH: The public and private sector workers needed for the execution of the objective of this resolution, which seeks to increase productivity in the work entity that is selected must count on the physical and technical conditions to carry out their assigned functions.
FIFTH: The public and private sector workers needed for the execution of the objective of this resolution will be enmarcados en los efectos de suspension de la relacion de trabajo [I think this means “to a suspension of their [original?] jobs”] and will enjoy irremovability, and as a consequence, cannot be fired or demoted from their original jobs without due cause proven through the procedure of Qualification of Flaws in article 422 of the Decreto con Rango, Valor y Fuerza de Ley Organica del Trabajo, los Trabajadores y las Trabajadoras.
SIXTH: The public and private sector workers needed for the execution of the objective of this resolution will not be obligated to work at their original jobs while the suspension is in effect, nor [is their original work] obligated to pay their salaries.
In this way, the obligation of paying the required worker’s salary falls upon the work entity [that requested the workers], and as a consequence [the workers] must provide the solicited services.
In other words, the text appears to be creating a system whereby every worker in the country may be obligated to work in the agricultural sector in order to help with food production.
SEVENTH: The patron of the original work entity must continue to comply with related obligations to the Social Security System.
EIGHTH: The original work entity must, during the time of suspension, computer la antiguedad [literally “work out the old”, but I’m not sure what this means] effects of Social Loans for the workers.
NINTH: The work entity that requires the workers is obligated to file the Cestaticket Socialista [a food subsidy for workers] during the time worked to the workers they required with the goal of strengthening their health, preventing workplace diseases and promoting greater work production.
TENTH: The required workers, once the suspension is over, will have the right to continue to work at their original work under the same conditions under which they laboured [prior to the suspension], except in circumstances where they are incapacitated due to workplace accident or disease or common accident or disease. In this cases, the required worker will be relocated by the original patron to a new post adequate to their new situation.
ELEVENTH: The required workers will render their services to the requesting entity for a period of 60 days which can be extended for the same amount of time is the circumstances so require.
In summary, the resolution appears to set out the following:
- A “requiring work entity” (a farm) can make a request from another work entity for workers in order to help with its production. The transferred workers must be physically able to do the labour and/or have the theoretical/technical knowledge to carry out the labour.
- This “labour transfer” lasts for 60 days, and can be extended for another 60 days.
- Your original employer is not obligated to pay your salary while you’re harvesting potatoes, but it is obligated to continue to meet its social security contributions. The farm in which you’re now employed will pay your wages.
- You are legally guaranteed to be able to return to your original job once your stint in the farm is over, unless you’re maimed/injured/otherwise incapacitated on the farm. In that case, your original employer must make appropriate accommodations.
- This is obligatory. You and your employer must accept the labour re-assignment if selected.
Since the measure was published with no prior warning in the Gaceta Oficial, it is not clear at this moment if the government actually intends to implement it, or how.
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