While Venezuelans continue to react to Tibisay Lucena’s announcement yesterday that the second step of the recall referendum would probably start in late October (thus making it extremely unlikely that the referendum will take place this year), rector Luis Rondon released a statement questioning the impartiality of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) and strongly suggested that the organization is deliberately delaying the referendum on Maduro.
In particular, Rondon took aim at what he considers to be the CNE’s apparent disregard for its own schedule and regulations, a fact he suggests seriously undermines the organization’s neutrality in the matter.
On Monday, I voiced my disagreement with the decision taken by the majority of the [CNE] that the collection of signatures from 20% of the registered voters in favour of a recall would take place in late October.
My disagreement is motivated by the fact that I believe that [the CNE] could have chosen an earlier date if the technical and logistical preparations started to take place in the second half of August – as I proposed in yesterday’s session – and not in the first half of September, as was decided.
These 38 days dedicated to the technological platforms that have been added to the schedule are more than enough for the deployment of our entire infrastructure to the more than 14,000 voting centres with which the CNE counts in order to guarantee Venezuelans the ability to exercise their political rights.
I denounce the fact that despite what it established in the “RESOLUTION 2770 DATED SEPTEMBER 6 2007” in article 31, which mandates the establishment of a schedule for the recall referendum process, the dates for all of the activities involved in this process have been announced late. As rector, I have tried in every instance to [get the] institution to respond effectively and assertively to the requests of those electors who request that they be allowed to exercise a right that is consecrated in the constitution.
I think that there is no judicial, technological or logistic [reason] to not go ahead and call for the recall once the regulations have been met. The will to do our constitutional duty as rectors of the electoral process is fundamental.
Still, we saw how the five days given to verify the 1% [of signatures collected in the first step of the process] as set out in article 10 section 5 of the above resolution turned into more than thirty days.
The nonexistence of a schedule from the moment that the recall was requested has damaged the principle of impartiality that should be guaranteed by this organizations, and has had a detrimental effect on the equality that should exists between the two sides. This is why I insisted in the announcing of a comprehensive schedule for the three steps of the recall: promotion, collection of 20% [of signatures], and the actual referendum.
In the face of the difficult situation that the country is living through, I believe it is paramount that this organization respect the timelines that are clearly established in the regulations. The CNE must act within the framework of swiftness outlined in the regulation so that it may fulfill its constitutional duty to allow Venezuelans to express their will in a timely fashion.
Estamos a tiempo [literally, “we are on time”, but I think Rondon means something like, “We have enough time” or “There is enough time to hold the referendum this year”].
The CNE is made up of a president, a vice-president, and three rectors. Out of the five, Rondon is widely recognized to be the only one who is sympathetic to the opposition.
UN Chief: Venezuela Experiencing “Humanitarian Crisis”
In an article published in Argentina’s La Nacion, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that he was “worried” about the situation in Venezuela, and affirmed that in his opinion, Venezuela is living through a humanitarian crisis.
I’m very worried about the current situation, which is that basic needs like food, water, health and clothing cannot be fulfilled [and] are not available. This creates a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
The statement from the UN chief becomes the loudest condemnation of the situation affecting the country today, and flies in the face of repeated comments by the Venezuelan government that there is no humanitarian crisis in the country.
On the cause of the crisis, Ki-moon said:
This whole situation is created by political instability. Before anything else, there must be political stability.
On the solution to the crisis, the secretary general expressed his faith the dialogue process currently in the works under the leadership of former Spanish prime minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Macri: Venezuela Not Really a Member of MERCOSUR
Argentinian president Mauricio Macri spoke on the continuing controversy over Venezuela’s MERCOSUR presidency in an article published today.
Macri was blunt with his assessment of the situation and suggested that Venezuela was simply not a full MERCOSUR member, saying:
We believe that [Venezuela] has not completed the steps that it had to complete to become a full member of MERCOSUR. Four years have already passed, so this is a moot point. We have a negative view of Venezuela taking a leadership position for these six months.
MERCOSUR’s presidency rotates among its four permanent members every six months based on alphabetical order. With Uruguay’s six-month term ending two weeks ago, Venezuela argues that it has automatically received the presidency.
While Uruguay supports Venezuela in the matter, the organization’s other members – namely Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay – have objected, and argue that Venezuela’s continued human rights abuses and economic performance should prohibit it from heading MERCOSUR.
Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez was quick to react to Macri’s statement through Twitter, saying that Argentina was “responding to the interests of the United States government”, and:
Mr. Mauricio Macri is trying to destroy MERCOSUR by reading from the US script which is actually taking him to commit historic errors.
Venezuela respects the law and it will not allow the destruction of MERCOSUR [while it] acts as its president pro tempore. Whoever picks on Venezuela, fails.
Santos, Maduro Will Meet to Discuss Border
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos will meet Maduro tomorrow in Venezuela in order to discuss the possible re-opening of the border between the two countries. The border was ordered closed by Maduro on August 19 of last year in an effort to combat the so-called “economic war” he claims is being waged against Venezuela by a myriad of foreign and domestic enemies.
In the early stages of the closure, the Venezuelan government also expelled 1,600 Colombian citizens living along the border, forcing another 19,000 to flee the country out of fear that the Venezuelan authorities would forcibly deport them and possibly steal their property.
Gov’t Lifts Sale Regulation on 1,500 Food Items
The national government published a list of approximately 1,500 food items which it will allow to be sold at unregulated prices starting today. The items were published in the Gaceta Oficial No. 40.959 dated August 4, 2016.
The list includes oat meal, olive oil, pork sausages, smoked bacon, Parmesan cheese, refined white sugar, evaporated milk, white rice, canned tuna, black beans, chicken breast, margarine, sardines, and unsalted butter.
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