Since the start of the recall referendum process against Maduro on March 9 of this year, PSUV officials have stated repeatedly that there was not enough time to hold the referendum in 2016. The assertions were tacitly confirmed by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the body in charge of elections in Venezuela.
For Maduro, the PSUV and the CNE, the matter is simple: the referendum is a complicated process, and from a logistical and administrative standpoint, 10 months was just not enough time to organize and hold one. The opposition argues that the referendum could be held this year, but the CNE is deliberately slowing down the process in order to help Maduro remain in power.
Today, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) issued a press release showing how the CNE is 76 days behind its own schedule on the referendum. The figure is based off a calculation conducted by a coalition of NGOs called the Plataforma Venezuela Libre [Free Venezuela Platform], which closely examined the CNE’s schedule for holding the referendum and compared it to what has happened so far.
The latest delay came yesterday. According to the CNE’s schedule, the organization should have formally announced the date for the second step of the recall yesterday: the collection of signatures from 20% of the electorate. However, no such announcement was made, and there is no way to know when it will be made.
Below, a breakdown of all of the delays at the CNE regarding the recall referendum process:
- March 9: The MUD officially gives the CNE the paperwork requesting the forms on which they will collect signatures in favour of the recall. Inexplicably, the CNE took 29 days to provide the forms.
- May 3: The MUD hands in all of the sgnatures it collected in favour of the referendum. The CNE regulations require that the signatures be checked within five business day. The CNE took 38 days to verify the signatures.
- July 26: 1 day later than what the regulation required, the CNE announces that it will finalize a report on the first step of the process. The CNE then takes 7 days to actually finalize the report, and wait 1 day to pass it along to the MUD, formally ending the firs step of the recall process.
Total time behind schedule: 76 days
According to the MUD, even when the CNE does adhere to its own schedule, it only meets the latest possible deadline. In other words, if the CNE says that a certain process “can take up to 15 working days”, that process is always completed at the 15 day mark at the earliest. A press release issued by the MUD reads:
In each and every step, the regulations talk about periods within which each step must be completed. This means that there are maximum dates. The CNE, in each and every step, has met the maximum dates…
The fact is important because once the second step of the recall process is met, the CNE must hold the recall referendum “within 90 days”. Since it is likely that the CNE will officially announce the recall date in October, the referendum could easily be held in November, December, or the first half of January.
However, if the referendum is held after January 10, 2017, the vice-president will become president, ensuring PSUV rule in Venezuela until at least 2018. For this reason, the MUD claims that the CNE is very clearly deliberately delaying the date of the referendum until at least January 11, 2017.
TSJ Nullifies National Assembly Sessions in April, May
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) – the country’s top court – issued a blanket ruling today nullifying National Assembly session held in April and May of this year. The ruling comes after PSUV deputies filed a motion with the TSJ seeking the measure.
The ruling applies specifically to the National Assembly sessions held on April 26 and 28, and those held on May 3, 4, 10, 12, and 17. Every piece of legislation passed during those sessions is also null.
The same ruling also asks the National Assembly’s executive committee to provide documentation proving that they have complied with a court order issued on April 21 of this year.
Lopez’s Son Calls Father’s Prison “Daddy’s House”
Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, posted a video on Instagram earlier today showing her and her son arriving at the Ramo Verde prison to visit her husband.
In the video, Lilian’s infant son appears happy to be arriving at “daddy’s house”. Lilian quickly corrects her son, telling her that the prison is not actually his dad’s house.
Below, the video along with my translation:
Son: We’re almost at daddy’s house!
Lilian: We’re going to see daddy, but this isn’t daddy’s house. This is Ramo Verde.
Lopez is serving a 14 year prison sentence in the Ramo Verde military prison just outside of Caracas.
Maduro: I’m Under “Brutal Censorship”
Speaking during a televised speech earlier today, Maduro blamed international media outlets both at home and abroad for submitting him to “brutal censorship”. According to Maduro, the censorship is the result of the fact that private media is owned by “oligarchs” and “the bourgeoisie”.
I’m going to see if I can go talk to the International Court of Human Rights to see if they can do something about the censorship against President Maduro. The censorship to which I’m submitted is brutal. This is a psychological war, but they won’t be able to beat me, bourgeoisie, oligarchs, owners of the media. You cover up anything that has to do with the country’s prosperity. Work. Progress. That beautiful meeting with the working class, the professional, scientific, honest working class.
The Venezuelan government owns and/or operates five television networks in Venezuela, including VTV, TeleSur, and TVes. The government also reserves the right to go en cadena [literally, “in chain”] on all television networks, whether public or private, whenever it desires. To go en cadena means that every television network in the country must switch to a government-mandated program, and continue to broadcast for its duration.
In 2015, Maduro spoke en cadena for 149 hours and 29 minutes, which is an average of 24 minutes of uninterrupted, universal transmission of his speeches every day.
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