Venezuelans both at home and abroad spent today in eager anticipation of tomorrow’s plebiscite on the future of the country. The highly-anticipated electoral process will ask Venezuelans to answer “yes” or “no” to the following three questions:
- Do you reject and disown the National Constituent Assembly as convened by Nicolas Maduro without first consulting the Venezuelan people?
- Do you demand that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces obey and defend the 1999 Constitution, and that it support the decisions made by the National Assembly?
- Do you approve of the renewal of public institutions according to what is established in the Constitution, along with the carrying out of elections and the creation of a new national unity government?
Earlier this afternoon, the former presidents of four Latin American countries arrived in Venezuela to act as observers for tomorrow’s plebiscite. The group of former heads of state is made up of Andres Pastrana (Colombia), Vicente Fox (Mexico), Jorge Quiroga (Bolivia), Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica) and Miguel Anguel Rodriguez (Costa Rica).
Carlos Ocariz, the mayor of Sucre state and the opposition’s head of electoral matters, said today that there were 80,000 volunteers ready to oversee tomorrow’s vote across the entire country. Ocariz also said that 602 cities across 100 countries would have voting centres to allow any Venezuelan citizen over the age of 18 to vote.
On the logistical figures inside Venezuela, Ocariz said:
We have 2,030 [voting centres] across the entire country [with] 14,404 voting tables (…) We have 47,272 accredited [electoral staff] across the entire country…
Speaking to the AFP, Vente Venezuela leader Maria Corina Machado said:
Everything is ready. Tomorrow the country will not only reject the Constituent [Assembly]; it will send a clear mandate for change from the regime, an end to the dictatorship and the start of a transition with a national unity government.
Voting centres in Venezuela will open at 7:00 AM tomorrow.
For a list of voting centres outside of Venezuela, click here.
Maduro: Plebiscite “is Fine”
Earlier this afternoon, Maduro spoke briefly on tomorrow’s plebiscite vote. While suggesting that the conduct of the vote itself was not a problem, Maduro reminded his audience that the event was illegal, since it was not sanctioned by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Venezuela’s electoral authority.
… the opposition has called for an internal consultation [using] its own mechanisms, without electoral rolls. They’re autonomous, so they can do their own internal consultation. That’s fine. If they want it to be legal, the [CNE] has to organize it.
Despite this official government narrative, the plebiscite as it is being conducted by the Venezuelan people is actually outlined in the national Constitution. According to Article 70, the people of Venezuela may hold a plebiscite at any time of their choosing, and the state must facilitate it. Article 70 of the Constitution (emphasis mine):
Article 70: Participation and involvement of people in the exercise of their sovereignty in political affairs can be manifested by: voting to fill public offices, referendum, consultation of public opinion, mandate revocation, legislative, constitutional and constituent initiative, open forums and meetings of citizens whose decisions shall be binding among others; and in social and economic affairs: citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, including those of a financial nature, savings funds, community enterprises, and other forms of association guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.
The law shall establish conditions for the effective functioning of the means of participation provided for under the present article.
Maduro also spoke about the international media attention that the plebiscite has gathered, saying:
The international media has arrived as if there was nothing else happening in Venezuela except for the right wing’s plebiscite. Imperialism–right wing media. It’s an international show. They’re experts at putting on shows.
NA Deputies Millan, Blanco Have Passports Annulled at Airport
National Assembly deputies Jorge Millan and Richard Blanco were detained at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia this afternoon while returning to Venezuela. The pair also had their passports annulled.
After the ordeal, Millan told reporters that he was beaten by five officers while he was in detention. It is not clear which service the officers form a part of.
I don’t have any kind of [legal] restriction banning me from entering the country. When they detained them, I told them that I was a National Assembly deputy, and they still violated my parliamentary immunity. We were arbitrary detained, beaten, [and] they annulled my passport and took my cellphone to erase all of the information that I had on there.
Annulling the passports of opposition figures has become a common tactic of the Maduro regime. National Assembly deputies Luis Florido, Americo de Grazia and Eudoro Gonzalez have also had their passports annulled this year while attempting to travel outside of Venezuela.
Switzerland Freezes $42 Million Linked to Odebrecht Corruption Scandal,
The government of Switzerland has frozen three bank accounts linked belonging to a Venezuelan citizen linked to the Oderbrecht corruption scandal containing a total of $42 million. One of the accounts is with Credit Suisse and holds $28 million; another, at Banque Heritage, holds $4 million, while the last, with BNP Paribas, holds $10 million.
The three bank accounts belong to Elita Del Valle Zacarias Diaz, the mother-in-law of former Minister of Transport and Public Works Haiman El Troudi. Just three days ago, the Public Ministry formally charged Zacarias with corruption-related offences stemming from her alleged involvement in the Odebrecht corruption scandal. Zacarias’ daughter–El Troudi’s wife–was also charged.
The Venezuelan government is alleged to have received $98 million in bribes from Odebrecht in exchange for lucrative construction contracts.
Maduro Draws Ire, Ridicule for Comparison to Saddam Hussein
Yesterday, Maduro precised over an event dedicated to the National Bolivarian Police. During the event, Maduro increased the officers’ pay by 80% and unveiled new uniforms for the service.
While trying on one of the new uniforms, Maduro quipped that he resembled deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Below, Maduro’s comment:
Maduro: I look like Saddam Hussein! Saddam Hussein in person.
The comment drew the ire and ridicule of Twitter users, some of whom shared images–some more graphic than others–reminding Maduro of Hussein’s ultimate fate.
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