National Assembly deputy and Voluntad Popular (VP) national director Juan Andres Mejia announced earlier today that the party collected 160,000 signatures over the weekend as part of the ongoing party-renewal process, meaning that the party will likely be allowed to continue to exist by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE).
Meija said that the turnout in favour of the party was so large that VP was able to exceed the CNE’s signature requirement by 685%. The party only needed 23,000 signatures in order to retain its status as an official political organization. Meija also explained that VP estimates that at least 40,000 supporters were prevented from signing in favour of the party after the National Guard began closing CNE centres while people were still in line.
Guevara Questions “Terrorist Organization” Accusations
On January 15, vice president Tarek El Aissami called Voluntad Popular “a terrorist organization”, and that it did not deserve the status of a political party.
Following the weekend’s overwhelming show of support for the party, VP national coordinator and National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara asked how it was possible for Maduro regime to classify the party as a terrorist group given its widespread popularity. Invoking the name of VP leader Leopoldo Lopez, Guevara said:
They created this [party renewal] process in order to slow things down, to divide us and to divert attention. Today, what they [the Maduro regime] have to do is figure out a way to justify their theory that Voluntad Popular is a terrorist party, yet 150,000 Venezuelans showed their support for Leopoldo Lopez’s party.
Guevara also said:
We managed to overcome all of the obstacles that were placed before us. We were vindicated in our decision to participate in this process, not from the point of view of it being a democratic celebration, but rather from the point of view of it being a citizen’s rebellion against the system. Today, we can state the following clearly: the government tried to set us up to fail, but it is the government that failed.
Only 2 in 10 Venezuelans Receive CLAP Bags Regularly
The head of the Datanalisis polling firm, Luis Vicente Leon, revealed the results of a study which suggests that only two in ten Venezuelans receive CLAP bags with any regularity, leaving the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans out of the reach of the distribution system.
It’s not true that you can live with a bag and that your family doesn’t have to do anything else [to get food] because they don’t come with all the products.
The CLAP bags are an initiative created by the Maduro regime last January. On paper, the CLAP system sees plastic bags – and more recently, boxes – containing some basic necessities like corn flour and cooking oil delivered directly to peoples’ homes at a subsidized price.
Last year, Maduro called the system “a miracle” of the Bolivarian Revolution. Critics have pointed out that the regime is using the system as a kind of political blackmail by handing out the bags only to individuals who openly express their support for the PSUV.
Only 1 in 10 Prefer CLAP to Supermarkets
The results of a survey by the Venebarometro polling firm released today show that only 10.4% of Venezuelans support the continuation of the CLAP food distribution system, making the backbone of Maduro’s fight against the so-called economic war an overwhelmingly unpopular measure.
When asked to choose between the CLAP distribution system and a supermarket system which is fully and regularly stocked, 88.7% of respondents chose the latter.
The CLAP system is wildly unpopular even among PSUV supporters, with only 30.4% saying that they prefer the bags to a system of stocked supermarkets. Among opposition supporters, only 0.5% support the CLAP system.
The same survey found that jailed VP leader Leopoldo Lopez is the most popular politician in the country with an approval rating of 53%. The most popular PSUV politician is vice president Tarek El Aissami, who holds an approval rating of 29.3%.
The survey sampled 1,200 homes between January 28 and February 8, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.37%. The full survey can be found here.
Bernal: Bakeries Should Open 24/7
Freddy Bernal, the head of the CLAP distribution network, said that he considered it an “aberration” that Venezuelan bakeries closed at night, and suggested that the regime was working out a system to force at least some of them to open 24/7. Bernal said:
We think it’s an aberration that they [bakeries] want to submit people to a schedule. That can’t be […] Flour is protected by the state. Sugar is protected by the state. How is it possible that bakers can just do whatever they want?
It is not at all clear exactly what if anything the Maduro regime has in store in terms of bakery schedules. In recent weeks, Maduro has referred to what he calls “the bread war” to refer to the widespread phenomenon that is bakeries selling out of bread quickly. While Maduro and the PSUV maintain point to a nebulous network of foreign and domestic enemies for the bread shortages, the nation’s bakers claim that they are suffering the effects of the country’s economic collapse in the form of diminished access to raw materials.
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