At a press conference shortly before noon, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) released its official response to the Consejo Nacional Electoral‘s (CNE) announcement last week on the second step of the recall referendum process against Maduro.
Last Wednesday, the CNE announced the date of the second step, which involves collecting signatures from 20% of voters. Controversially – and contrary to the what is established in the Constitution – the CNE asked that the signatures be collected from 20% of registered voters in each state. The CNE also announced that the recall could not happen this year, which ensure the continuation of PSUV rule until at least 2019 if Maduro were to lose the recall.
In its announcement this morning, the MUD established that it would continue to work towards having the referendum take place, but placed two conditions on the process:
- The recall must happen this year. The MUD does not consider that there is any good reason why this cannot be the case, and calls on citizens to mount pressure through peaceful protest to force the government to relent on this point.
- The signatures from 20% of voters will be collected at the national level, not by state as the CNE demands. The MUD justifies this condition by pointing out that it is following the letter of the law as set out in article 72 of the Constitution.
Below, my translation of the MUD’s press response to the CNE:
The people will force the regime to follow the Constitution.
Now is the time of the sovereign people and the mobilized citizen. This is the hour of the offended, the humiliated, the wronged, the assaulted. It is the hour of those of us who join interminable lines to buy food, of those of us who feel desperation at not being able to find indispensable medicine. It is the house of those of us who carry the pain of crying for family members murdered by unpunished criminals. It is the hour of the families that have been split up because their children have had to leave the country. It is the hour of not putting up with this any longer! It is the hour of change!
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, after a process of debate, deep reflection and consultations with very diverse sectors of Venezuelan society, now lays out its position and call before the people of Venezuela to achieve change in 2016 in the face of an unconstitutional announcement by the CNE regarding the [second step] of the recall referendum.
The pro-PSUV rectors of the CNE had the opportunity not only to follow the Constitution, but also the entirety of the Venezuelan people who demand a recall of Nicolas Maduro this year. Instead of behaving like an independent body, the pro-PSUV rectors of the CNE instead chose to laugh at Venezuelans and their problems. Above all else, they underestimated the will for change, the strength of democracy, and the people’s capacity for action.
Our answer and that of all democrats from every social sector that we consulted is not for the CNE or its bosses: it’s for Venezuelans who hunger for food and justice, who urgently demand medicine and liberty. [That answer is] that we are with you, that this is a joint struggle, and that the end is coming.
We did not except anything else from the CNE. We know who were are facing, and we know what they are capable of in the name of stopping change. This is why we will teach them a lesson in greatness, and do everything that is necessary to have the Constitution and the desire for change from millions of Venezuelans followed. This is why today, September 27, we state:
- The recall referendum will happen this year. There is no technical or legal reason why this cannot be. The recall referendum will happen in 2016 because it is in the Constitution and because it is our right and necessity as a people.
- We will activate the recall by following what is in the Constitution: [that] the collection of signatures represent at least 20% of registered voters at the national level. Our objective and focus will be in rallying up millions of signatures on October 26, 27 and 28 to surpass the requirement for the recall referendum by a wide margin. We will only follow the condition set out in the Constitution, and we reject out of hand any “condition” that violates the national Constitution and that the CNE uses as an excuse to deny or delay the activation of the recall referendum in 2016. We will not accept anything that does not follow the Constitution, and if the government chooses to not follow it or violate it, it will find itself before a people who make it it follow the Constitution.
This is why we call on the people of Venezuela to attend the signature-collection campaign called for October 26, 27 and 28 en masse in order to active the recall referendum in 2016, understanding that our work will not limit itself only to completing an administrative step, but rather exercising all democratic pressure mechanisms needed to [ensure that this process follows the law]. The true “Toma de Venezuela” [Takeover of Venezuela] will take place during these three days. The people will not be stopped by a measly number of voting machines, nor their malicious placement, nor by these late dates. October 26, 27, and 28 will be three days of a democratic people on the streets adhering to and making [the government] adhere to the Constitution and the law.
In order to accomplish this, we call on all of the people, all of the democratic citizenry to activate ourselves immediately just as we did for the Gran Toma de Caracas [Great Takeover of Caracas] on September 1, but with much greater scope and strength. Starting today, we’re calling for the organization of protest activities each day throughout the country. In particular, we’re calling for a special national mobilization campaign for October 12, during which we will cause the overflow of every street in the country in a peaceful manner, and we will let the regime and its electoral agents know that the collection of the 20% is to be done at the national level and that the recall referendum will be this year. We will let them know that they don’t set the rules, that they are in the Constitution and that we Venezuelans will make them follow [these rules].
Since coming to power, this regime has done nothing but underestimate us, make us think that they have total control and that there is supposedly no other option except submitting ourselves to them.
It is the time to remind them of who we are: the greatness of this people beats in each of our hearts, because we know that our differences strengthen us, that we want peaceful elections, and that we have faced worse tyranny and we have defeated it time and again.
The time has come to do this again [defeat tyranny] and act: if the regime ignores the Constitution, the will of the sovereign [the people] and the only requisite that our Constitution sets for the conduct of a recall referendum which is the collection of [signatures from] 20% of voters registered at the national level, it is our duty as a people to activate ourselves and force them to obey the Constitution on the streets and through our institutions.
Our call is to defend that which makes us Venezuela. This is the lesson that we will teach the government.
We can achieve this because we are the majority, because the Constitution supports us, and because the entire world backs us up on our struggle for liberty and democracy.
Viva democracy, co-existence and peace.
Viva free Venezuela.
Gloria al bravo pueblo! [These are the first words of the national anthem; it means, “Glory to the brave people!”].
76.4% Has Negative Opinion of Maduro’s Term
A survey by the Venebarometro polling firm has found that 76.4% of those polled have a negative opinion of Maduro’s term as president. The figure is up 8 points since April of this year, when 68.5% of respondents expressed a negative opinion.
The same poll also found the following results:
- Only 7.4% of respondents have a positive opinion of Venezuela’s current situation.
- 70.9% of respondents believe that Maduro should leave office “as soon as possible”, while only 23% believe he should remain as president.
- If the recall referendum were held this coming Sunday, 65.1% of respondents said that they would definitely go vote. Of that percentage, 86.7% would vote to recall Maduro.
- Of the respondents who would vote to recall Maduro, 96% consider themselves to be opposition supporters, while 23.9% consider themselves to be PSUV supporters.
- 54% of the respondents consider themselves to be opposition supporters, while 27.5% consider themselves to be PSUV supporters.
The poll was conducted between August 26 and September 4. It sampled 1,200 individuals, and is accurate to within +/- 2.37%.
Basic Nutritious Food Basket Jumps to Bs. 383,925.20
The price of the basic nutritious food basket – the combination of food items a family of five needs to eat in one month in order to maintain a healthy diet – jumped by 5.5% from July to August, and now sits at Bs. 383,925.20. Between August of last year and August of this year, the measure has jumped 658.4%.
The latest figure means that a Venezuelan family of five must earn 18 times the minimum monthly salary in order to eat a healthy diet for one month.
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