At the conclusion of yesterday’s historic march in Caracas, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica [MUD], the country’s official opposition bloc, released a statement outlining its next steps in the quest to have the recall referendum against Maduro held this year.
Below, the MUD’s plan for the next several weeks:
- September 7: “We will go to the offices of the Consejo Nacional Electoral [National Electoral Council] (CNE) around the country to let our demands known regarding the collection of the 20% [of signatures in favour of the recall]”.
- September 14: “There will be a National Round of Mobilizations which will last 12 hours in every state capital in response to what the CNE will announce on September 13, and to send out the Venezuelan people’s message to the governments that will meet on that day in Venezuela for the Non-Aligned Countries’ Summit.
- The Day After The 20% of Signatures are Collected: We will call for the Toma de Venezuela [The Takeover of Venezuela], which will last 24 hours and demand the immediate holding of the recall referendum.
If the recall referendum happens before January 10, 2017 and Maduro loses, there will be a presidential election that the opposition believes it can easily win. If the referendum happens after January 10, 2017, then the vice-president – currently Aristobulo Isturiz – will become president, ensuring PSUV rule until at least 2019.
For this reason, the MUD believes that it is imperative to hold the referendum this year.
Allup “Not Surprised” By Maduro’s Threats
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup alluded to Maduro’s threat yesterday to remove democratic immunity from opposition legislators by decree, calling his words another “smokescreen” to detract from the real issues facing the country.
Allup made the comment on Twitter by saying:
The government says that it will make sensational announcements today. Hopefully this isn’t about new political smokescreens while the country starves to death.
Allup spoke specifically on the threat this morning in an interview with Union Radio, saying:
It wouldn’t surprise me if he violated the Constitution, because that’s what the president does. It wouldn’t surprised me if he removed my parliamentary immunity via decree in violation of the Constitution.
In a later interview, Allup said that he understood the reason for Maduro’s “absurd” comments:
… given his nervousness and anxiety about the tragedy that he’s living through.
Allup also pointed out that that there is no legal mechanism by which the President of the Republic can remove a National Assembly deputy’s parliamentary immunity, since that task falls exclusively on the legislature.
Allup: PSUV Doesn’t Own Streets Around Miraflores Palace
Speaking today on the popular Vladimir a la 1 television show broadcast on Globovision, Allup addressed the issue of whether or not the opposition would ever attempt to hold a demonstration near the Miraflores Palace, the presidential residence in the west of Caracas.
While the Constitution allows for peaceful demonstrations without any kind of geographical restriction, Maduro and the PSUV have often claimed that the opposition were banned from demonstrating not only near the Miraflores Palace, but also in the western part of Caracas altogether. Miraflores is located very close to the National Assembly and government buildings.
Since the last time that the opposition marched to Miraflores was during the April 11 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez, the subject still remains sensitive.
Allup addressed the nature of this association by saying:
The government, when it is weak and more easily frightened, always associates the opposition heading to the Miraflores Palace – for example – to bring a petition or a demand to the President [with] “They’re coming to attack Miraflores! Remember what happened on April 11!”.
For Allup, associating a peaceful demonstration to Miraflores today with the April 2002 coup is absurd as associating it with the 1992 coup launched by Chavez.
No one said that we’re going to Miraflores, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t do it in the future. They can’t associate Miraflores with a coup. You can in fact march [to Miraflores] peacefully. The spaces in any municipality should be [there to be used by] any Venezuelan.
Opposition Mayor Arrested
Delson Guarate, the mayor of the Mario Briceño Iragorry municipality in Aragua state, was arrested this morning by SEBIN agents at his office.
Guarate, who is also the regional coordinator of the Voluntad Popular [Popular Will] (VP) party, announced his arrest as it was happening through his Twitter account.
Shortly before being taken away, someone in the crowd that had gathered outside of city hall recorded a few of Guarate’s words.
Below, that video along with my translation:
Crowd chanting “Valiente! Valiente!” [Brave! Brave!]
Guarate: This is a fight for Venezuela. This fight is in the hands of Venezuelans. They’re going to have to fill whole stadiums to arrest us all. We are willing to give up our lives for Venezuela. I want to tell you today – full of faith and from the bottom of my heart – that this is not one man’s fight. This is a fight that —
Guarate becomes only the latest in a string of arrests in the past few days targeting opposition politicians, including Yon Goiocoechea, Daniel Cabellos, and Carlos Melo.
Carter, Almagro Congratulate Venezuelans for Demonstration
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter joined the head of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, issued a joint statement yesterday congratulating the Venezuelan opposition for having enjoyed a successful, peaceful demonstration in Caracas yesterday.
Part of the statement reads:
The Venezuelan people’s peaceful demonstration today in Caracas reaffirms their willingness [to find] a democratic way out within the context of the recall referendum.
1,300 CORPOELEC Workers Quit in One Month
El Nacional reported today that over the past month, 1,300 workers at CORPOELEC – the state-owned national electrical company – have quit their jobs over benefit cuts, low salaries and political persecution.
The head of the electrical worker’s union for Caracas, Miranda and Vargas, Reinaldo Diaz, spoke to the newspaper about the reason for the exodus:
In CORPOELEC there is no motivation for staff to stay. Engineers, chemists, linesmen and technicians with more than 15 years of experience have left, among others, because they’re tired of the workplace harassment, poor socioeconomic conditions and industrial security.
Since CORPOELEC is owned and operated by the Venezuelan state, the workplace is highly politicized. Just last week, the PSUV carried out threats to fire public employees who signed in favour of the recall referendum against Maduro, arguing repeatedly that escualidos [derogatory term for opposition supporters] cannot work for the state.
According to Diaz, 20 CORPOELEC employees have been fired for signing in favour of the referendum.
Diaz explained that the 1,300 recently-departed workers represent about 3% of CORPOELEC’s total employees, which is approximately 42,000 workers.
Diaz also pointed out that workers in 10 out of the 12 pay scales in the organization earn the minimum monthly salary, which is currently Bs. 22,576.73. In total, 31,800 of the organization’s employees – even highly experienced and qualified ones – earn approximately $22.11 per month.
Another reason for worker dissatisfaction has to do with CORPOELEC’s less-than-stellar safety record. 20 workers have died in accidents during the conduct of their duties since 2012.
Video Shows PSUV’s Clever Use of Camera Angles
A video recorded during yesterday’s PSUV rally in the Bolivar Avenue of Caracas shows how the PSUV used clever camera angles and shots to hide the relatively small size of the crowd at its rally yesterday. The video was recorded by a man named Pedro Garcia who lives along the Bolivar Avenue.
In the video, Garcia records the images shown on state-run TV: Maduro speaking on a crowded podium, with what appears to be a massive crowd behind him. The feed switches often between cameras, but the cameras never zoom out. Instead, they remain zoomed in to the crowd, often on individuals, to give the illusion of a packed crowd.
Towards the end of the video, Garcia looks out his window and shows the actual rally as it looked in real life. The pro-PSUV does not fill the avenue, and while it’s still make up of thousands of people, is no where near as large as the opposition rally that took place in Caracas yesterday.
Below, the video:
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