The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) suggested today that the second step of the recall referendum against Maduro will require at least 40,000 fingerprint scanning machines in order to be completed successfully. The MUD also calculates that the machines will have to be spread out across 14,500 voting centres throughout the country.

The head of the bloc, Jesus Torrealba, said that the number of machines and voting centres is needed to make sure that everyone who wants to sign in favour of recalling Maduro will have the opportunity to do so.

The next step of the referendum process requires 20% of registered voters to sign in favour of recalling Maduro. The opposition is concerned that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) will attempt to derail the process any number of ways: by allotting too few voting machines or voting centres, by demanding that the signatures be collected in a single day, or by demanding that the signatures be collected from 20% of registered voters in each state rather than the entire country.

On the last point, Torrealba said:

Let it be clear that the 20% [is to be collected] nationally, not by state.

While the CNE’s own regulation states that the signatures have to be collected from registered voters at the national level, it demanded that the signatures collected during the first stage of the referendum be collected at the state level.

Collecting at the signatures at the state level adds unnecessary administrative and logistical difficulties to the process.

MUD Announces Rally Points for Sept. 1 Protest

The MUD announced the rally points for next week’s Toma de Caracas [roughly, “The Caracas Takeover”]. Jesus Torrealba announced the locations by saying that next week’s demonstration will be “peaceful, and for peace”.

Torrealba said:

The MUD is clearly committed to having a peaceful event. This is our commitment, and we are going to stick to it and make it stick.

The protest – which the MUD hopes will be one of the largest in Venezuela history – will take place in Caracas, but will involve people from all around the country who are expected to travel to the city in order to participate in the demonstration.

Below, a list of the seven rally points. Aside from hosting citizens of Caracas, the rally points will also act as gathering points for people from other parts of the country:

  • Unicentro El Marques, La California: This rally point will receive people from Anzoategui, Barlovento, Guarenas and Guatire.
  • Santa Fa interchange, Santa Fe: This rally point will receive people from other areas in Miranda state.
  • Caurimare: This rally point will receive people from El Hatillo and Baruta.
  • Santa Monica: This rally point will receive people from Tachira, Merida, Lara and Yaracuy states.
  • El Paraiso: This rally point will receive people from Vargas state.
  • Plaza Venezuela: This rally point will receive people from Zulia, Falcon, Aragua, and Carabobo states and Valles del Tuy, as well as students from throughout the country.
  • Parque Cristal: This rally point will receive people from Nueva Esparta, Sucre, Delta Amacuro and Bolivar states.

The MUD also announced that each rally point will have one and only on specific location where protesters will meet. These locations will be announced 48 hours before the protest.

Imports Down 98% in One Year

Rusvel Gutierrez, the head of the Vargas state Camara de Comerciantes, Industriales y Aduaneros [Chamber of Business Owners, Industrialists and Customs] said that imports into Venezuela have fallen 98% since last year.

Gutierrez made the comment in an interview that aired in Globovision earlier today. Referencing an erroneous figure provided by the government last week, Gutierrez said:

Last week, the government said that imports had fallen 50%, but that figure is only on public imports brought in by the government. The real figure that includes all imports is 98%.

Gutierrez also said that there were a total of 4,500 customs officers in the country, with 1,200 of them registered and working in Vargas state alone. However, the lack of imports means that only 50 customs officers were currently working in Vargas state.

For Gutierrez, the dramatic figure results in the scarcity crisis affecting the country:

Medical imports have been reduced. What the government cares about the most is food, but the amount that is coming in is not enough to supply the Venezuelan people.

Gutierrez also said that the government’s export policy has also been a failure, saying:

In order to export you have to produce, but we don’t even [produce] agricultural products here.

Paraguay: Rodriguez Stands Alone

The Paraguayan vice-minister of Economic Affairs and Integration, Rigoberto Gauto, told reporters today that Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez stands alone in her struggle to have the country recognized as MERCOSUR’s president.

Guato said that MERCOSUR was united in its rejection of Venezuela’s presidency given the country’s human rights violations. Gauto said:

[There aren’t two agendas] there is only one (…) that which Venezuela is putting forward, we see that as an effort to achieve some kind of international recognition.

On Rodriguez’s recent trip to India in order to gauge support for an India-MERCOSUR trade agreement, Gauto said:

[Rodriguez] went over there to make a proposal that it is not hers to make, and she did not [go to India as] a representative of the bloc.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com
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