The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) finalized plans today for another massive protest in Caracas, this time scheduled for tomorrow. The MUD is calling this march the Cumbre del Pueblo [“The People’s Summit”], which is a jab at the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement which is taking place in Margarita Island this week.
The head of the MUD, Jesus Torrealba, revealed the details of the march at a press conference earlier today. Torrealba said that protesters would rally at five different points around Caracas, and that they would all then meet on the Libertador Avenue in the centre of the city.
Torrealba also explained that the reason for tomorrow’s protest is to demand that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) quit stalling and finally announce the date for the second step in the recall referendum against Maduro, which will involve collecting signatures from 20% of registered voters.
The goals of tomorrow’s march in Caracas are:
- To demand that the CNE allocate a “sufficient amount” of voting machines for the second step of the referendum.
- To demand that the placement of the voting machines correspond to population density (i.e., that large urban centres get more machines than small towns, since more people would be expected to vote in the former).
- That the date for the second step of the referendum be in late September or early October.
CNE Still Silent on Second Step; One Day Away From Deadline
The deadline for the CNE to announce the date for the second step of the recall referendum process against Maduro is tomorrow. As of the writing of this post (5:10 Caracas time), the electoral body has yet to make an official announcement on the matter.
Rector Luis Emilio Rondon – widely regarded as the only pro-opposition figure in the CNE – said today that he expects discussions at the electoral body to last until tomorrow. He also said that he had no doubt that the collection of signatures from 20% of registered voters should take place at the national – not state – level, despite earlier suggestions to the contrary by the CNE’s other rectors.
Rondon also spoke on the gubernatorial elections that are supposed to take place this year, but which the CNE has not made any official mention of. Rondon said that he had prepared a timetable for holding the elections before the end of the year and presented it to the CNE leadership, but that they returned it to him because they considered it “imprudent” for him, a rector, to take on the task of scheduling the elections himself.
Cabello Pushes “20-20-20” Referendum Logic
National Assembly deputy and PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello continued to push his logic for what the next step of the recall referendum against Maduro should look like logistically. The next step requires signatures from 20% of registered electors to vote in favour of holding a referendum against Maduro.
According to Cabello, because the second step of the referendum requires signatures from 20% of electors, it should be conducted in 20% of the time and with 20% of the voting machines as a normal election. Cabello explained:
Maduro was elected in a single day. The logical thing to do, if they [the opposition] are collecting signatures in a single day, but [sic] on top of that if they’re collecting 20% of signatures, they need to do it in 20% of the time with 20% of the machines – 20% of everything. It shouldn’t even be a whole day.
Following Cabello’s logic, the opposition would need to collect approximately 4 million signatures in just under two and a half hours.
Cabello also repeated what has become a mantra for him recently: “There will be no referendum in 2016 or in 2017”.
Macri: Venezuela Getting “Worse Each Day”
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri gave an interview to the EFE news agency, published today, in which he talks about the ongoing situation in the country. Macri said that he does not like “anything that is happening in Venezuela”, and that the situation is “getting worse each day”.
Macri also injected a sense of urgency to the crisis from his standpoint and called on Latin America to take notice, suggesting that with each passing day more and more Venezuela suffer from the effects of the crisis:
Every day, more people suffer the consequences. Every day, people’s lives are worth less (…) Every day, human rights are violated more and, clearly, Latin America cannot turn its back on what is happening.
Death Toll Rises to 11 At PGV After Grenade Explosion
A grenade that exploded yesterday inside the Penitenciaria General de Venezuela [Venezuelan General Penitentiary] (PGV) has now claimed the lives of 11 people and left 26 others injured. Despite earlier rumours to the contrary, a government official from Guarico state said that no prison staff had been killed in the explosion.
El Nacional reports that the explosion took place during the birthday party for the “pran” of the prison. In Venezuela, prisons are usually run by a pran [acronym for “preso rematado, asesino nato” which means, roughly, “total prisoner, born killer”]. The pran runs the illicit activities in the prison, including the smuggling of drugs, weapons and other contraband in and out of the prison.
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