Today sees the start of the Recall Referendum signature drive, otherwise known as MUD versus the Unimaginable Weasel-Fucking Doom Demon (CNE, pa los panas). It’s a showdown so unbelievably lopsided that David and Goliath should both file injunctions for copyright infringement, and then sit together while weeping softly to Enya. Today’s signature drive will be but the first in what is sure to be a long string of bouts consisting basically of CNE kicking us in the balls and then expecting us to thank them.

The start doesn’t leave much room for hope. MUD was literally reduced to begging the CNE for a goddamned planilla, a simple, government-sanctioned form for collecting signatures. In a tip of the hat to ecosocialism, MUD will now have to photocopy this form as many times as it needs to in order to gather the autographs of 1% of registered voters in every Venezuelan state.  

Nevermind that, back in 2004, CNE actually printed those forms in our national Mint. Then again, back in 2004, Chávez wanted a referendum, and so the Lecherous Herpes Sore that is the CNE eventually complied.

So what’s the deal with this 1% in each state bullshit? I was wondering the same thing. Nowhere in Art. 72 of the Constitution, or in CNE’s 2007 Regulations for Petitioning for a Referendum will you find anything about 1% of registered voters having to “constitute a Group of Citizens (previously approved by the CNE), in order to request that the Electoral Power evaluate whether the requirements stated in Art. 72 of the Constitution are being met so that a signature-collecting drive may be organized.”

Why won’t you? Because the document that contains that key rule is in another CNE resolution – number 070906-2770, if you’re keeping score at home. Preciously, I can’t link to that one because it’s not online: it’s cloistered like some sort of mystical amulet, one that may only be consulted in person at CNE’s archives in downtown Caracas. It sounds like a joke, but it’s true.

The deliberate clusterfuck of misinformation only gets deeper. Just this week was MUD made aware of a tiny geographical caveat: CNE won’t be satisfied with us collecting 1% of signatures in general. That would be too simple. Instead we have to collect 1% of registered voters in every state.

Not complicated enough for you? Well, every single one of those signators must then personally turn up to validate their signature at their local CNE office, but only after CNE has pre-validated them. And we haven’t gotten to the good part yet: If any state fails to reach the minimum number of valid signatures corresponding to 1% of its registered voters, the entire process is null and void. As in, chao pescao.

CNE will microscopically scrutinize every comma, every tilde, every miserable ink molecule on each and every fiber of those sheets of paper.

To illustrate: 1% of the National Voter Registry is 197.978 signatures. 1% of registered voters in Yaracuy state is 4.249. Say we collect waaaay more than 197 thousand signatures nationwide, which are processed and given the CNE kiss of approval, but 74 signatures from Yaracuy state got thrown out because some overly enthusiastic activist decided to use a red marker instead of a black pen, leaving Yaracuy 74 signatures short of its 4.249 requirement. What happens then? What happens is none of this counts for jack shit.

How hard is it to screw up a signature planilla? Well, given that the hundreds of activists who will instruct voters on how to sign throughout 1500 points across Venezuela today were given their marching orders just yesterday….not all that hard.

CNE will microscopically scrutinize every comma, every tilde, every miserable ink molecule on each and every fiber of those sheets of paper. Which, by the way, have to be US Legal size. Try finding several reams of US Legal size paper in Tucupita on 12 hours notice. And then try to find the toner cartridges to photocopy them in time for today’s drive. No hay. Because there’s no toner. Because there are no dollars to import toner. Or anything else. Because the people CNE is trying to keep in office stole them. That’s why.

But I digress.  

If we take into account the fact that, of the 2,000 signatures collected to petition for the planilla (yes, we had to collect signatures for that too!), 4% were deemed invalid, then the statistical probability of every single aspect of this insane production going perfectly according to plan is…not great.

I know what you’re thinking: “Well then, MUD just has to overshoot its target and give itself a comfortable margin of error. Let’s collect two million signatures, and surely, 197 thousand of those MUST be valid.”

The Shit-Eating Spunk Bubble that is CNE has the MUD divided on this issue.

One side argues that we should collect as many signatures as humanly possible, since the bigger the sample, the less CNE can scrutinize each and every signature-disqualifying detail.

Others cite the totally foreseeable risk of CNE deciding that all two million people must now personally validate their signatures during the five-day validation period, which would be a logistical impossibility.

This second group wants a more pragmatic, surgical approach to signature collection, which favors party activists over regular citizens, figuring they can be mobilized more efficiently if need be. If this latter group wins, then today’s signing drive ends up being more of a symbolic act of strength: there’s always the risk that overly inflated expectations could backfire as every viejita in the neighborhood demands their signatures be counted, too.

Remember this is just the 1% phase.

Later on we’ll have to collect 20%. That’ll be the fun part.

Our discussion of the Soulless Excrement Puddle that is CNE would not be complete without mentioning that the signature validation process – the one you have to show up for in person – relies on fingerprint scanners. Which run on electricity. You know electricity, right? It’s that stuff we’re in short supply of these days. Which is why government offices will only open two days a week.

Will CNE show some restraint and settle on calendar days rather than the pink unicorns known as days-when-Venezuelan-public-employees-actually-work? We’re not sure yet. Given their track record, I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s a sad state of affairs when your political debate centers on the question of “what constitutes a holiday”…though, admittedly, that is one step up from “when will I get my fucking planilla”.

The good news is that yesterday’s emission of the planilla officially starts the clock on referendum timetable. CNE is now bound by a schedule of events that it will surely try to delay as much as possible.

While it is true that CNE determines the pace of this process to some degree, once the process starts the opposition has some ability to influence the clock. For example: the 1% signature collection process officially runs for 30 days. But MUD is shooting for delivering all signatures by Monday. If MUD is aggressive in its efforts to manage the clock, we may just have a chance at forcing a vote before January 10th, 2017.

And that’s the prize we have to keep our eye on. The process may be almost parodically unfair – in fact, it plainly is. But if we keep up the pressure, we could – just could – be rid of Maduro peacefully, legally and constitutionally within a mere eight months.

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Emi is a cook, a lover of animals, politics, expletives, and Venezuela. She is the co-founder of Caracas Chronicles LLC and Managing Editor if the site until December 2017.


  1. “If MUD is aggressive in its efforts to manage the clock, we may just have a chance at forcing a vote before January 10th, 2017.”

    There is ABSOLUTELY no hope that the process will occur before Jan. 10.
    This is all a well planned game to keep the PSUV in power until at least 2019.
    Not saying we shouldn’t play the game but this government will not leave democratically – EVER.

      • Well, you’ve to admit that chavismo’s plan B in case they lost the election is in full force now, which is “We make up some bullshit to fraud elections of some congressmen” courtesy of jorgito rodríguez, followed by what you considered a prank, the “Everything the AN does is illegal now” thing.

      • Toro. Tienes rabo de paja remojada en gasolina.

        Una de las cosas que dije el 7 D, para las que te mofaste tomando printscreens, fue que si no desactivaban el TSJ, la AN sería destruida.

        Tu, fiel a tu risita habitual, no creíste nada. Y eso pasó exactamente como te lo dije.

        Pasan meses en los que los inoperantes de la mud han hecho CERO y tu todavía hablas de la “victoria”. Cual victoria???

        Cámbiale el nombre a esto por Aporrea Chronicles y ahórranos la molestia.

        • “Pasan meses en los que los inoperantes de la mud han hecho CERO y tu todavía hablas de la “victoria”. Cual victoria???”

          They have done a couple of things.

          They have enacted several laws being faithful to their electors and in the measure of its limitations and the straightjacket impossed by the TSJ,

          They have revealed to the world the arbitrarity and illegality of this government.

          My friend, you are wrong.

    • And look what’s happening in the AN.
      They are totally blocked at every move they make.
      Even Chavistas want to get rid of Maduro however they don’t want the PSUV out or a new presidential election.

      At no point have I ever commented that the MUD wouldn’t win the AN.

    • Pretty much, let’s not forget how literally 100% of these whippersnappers are corrupt, drug trafficker murderers. A simple finger snap in their general direction would light up those rabo e paja so fast it would look like a forest fire.

      They have threaten, time and time again (starting with the cabrón mayor de chiabe) that they’ll never give up power, they would rather nuke the country first.

      Don’t get me wrong, people should still get out to vote, not so much with the intent of getting Maduro and his acolytes out of power, but more from a “we tried to give you an easy, harmless way out of this” angle, just so that there aren’t any pataleos down the line when they start getting deported to the US on drug charges.

  2. The failure to get 1% in each state may cause the CNE to refuse to hold a recall, but it wouldn’t be a failure per se, since there is no constitutional requirement to do so.

    Electoral guardians are not permitted to invent conditions arbitrarily.

    A refusal to hold a referendum based on criteria which do not exist in law is a pretty clear pre-emptive coup. It is a strong argument for application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

    While everyone understands that a victorious recall campaign leading to a vote would be the best outcome, a victorious recall campaign stymied by the CNE will delegitimize Maduro even further.

    No one knows what circumstances will cause Maduro to fall; all work aimed at undermining him is potentially important.

    • Well said Jeffry.
      The danger is to naively place all the hopes in the referendum only to find out one year later we have been played for a fool. They will say we don’t have the votes because some were disqualified or other shenanigans.
      The Democratic Charter helps to delegitimize Maduro but thats about it, the OAS has no teeth.
      Agree 100% that all the mechanism to undermine Maduro has to be implemented at full force.

    • “Electoral guardians are not permitted to invent conditions arbitrarily” C’mon Jeffry! That’s precisely what they’ve been doing since they took office… Remember “Expropiese” without following not even a dot of the constitutional procedure. They did not declare the absolute absence of the president when he was sick even though that is a constitutional mandate. They kicked Ma Corina out off parlamaint the same way… I could go on… They will do whatever les salga de donde tu quieras…

  3. Great article as always emi thanks.
    Why is the deadline for the referendum January 10? Is there some law that limits when the people can request a referendum? (Wouldn’t be surprised)


    • If maduro is ousted AFTER jan 10, the vicepresident would take office for the remainder of the term. If he is ousted before, then new elections are called.

    • After January 10th the office would simply go to his vice-president, who would serve out the reminder of the term. An empty victory if there ever was one.

  4. Look, I get you’re angry. We all are. But your otherwise awesome write up would be sooo more useful without the f-bombs!

  5. At the risk of stating the obvious…

    If all of the signatories need to personally verify their signature at the CNE, what is the point of a signed petition?

    And with that off my chest…

    Whether the signatures are used or not, I think that the Oppo needs to give everyone a chance to sign. For one, I think that that the process of signing the petition is important psychologically as it allows people to “do something” proactive.

  6. Creo que el grado de provocacion y abuso al que somete el regimen a la castigada poblacion ha llegado a un punto donde la ira que sentimos ya no encuentra sucificiente expresion en el vasto arsenal de procacidades que desde siempre usamos cuando estamos arrechos en Venezuela, surge pues un nuevo reto y es la creacion de nuevas procacidades mas apocalipticas , potentes e incisivas que esten a la altura de la rabia que nos causan los grotescos desafueros del regimen ………!! Claro las procacidades en ingles son mas bien taimadas , el reto es el de inventar denuestos tremebundos , trincatripas en idioma espanol……..!! Quien se atreve!!

    • Yo la única cosa que veo buena del chavismo es que le enseñará a Venezuela cuál es la verdadera naturaleza de aquella ridiculez que tanto le gustó a su gente exaltar, el bodrio llamado “viveza criolla”, y que luego de derrocado el chavismo sea por completo erradicada de la mentalidad de la gente.

  7. Why Jan 10th? That is the date Maduro acted as Presidente Encargado; remember, Chavez was alive, he was the real president. He even signed documents and talked for 5 hours straight…!
    Maduro’s oath as President was on April 19th, 2013.

  8. As tortuous as all this sounds the fact that they have conceded even this triviality shows they cannot hold onto a stiff status quo. Of course they will try shenanigans, it is inherent to their identity, but its is far from clear that they will actually be able to keep control over all the events that will unfold from this recall process.

    Meantime, back at the batcave… the economic collapse and the patent mismanagement is far from reaching even an inflection point. The situation of the country and hence the mood of the people will only darken more and more.

    The perception that the opposition is doing something to remove Chavismo will energize it.

  9. The referendum is the distraction.

    There are 9 months ahead until the January threshold date and the “opposition” that promotes this will milk every day and news cycle they can on this “epic”.

    Meanwhile, “Big Oil”, Cuba, The Vatican, Spain, The US, China, Russia, Iran, Brazil and Colombia (and Guyana!) and who-knows-who-else! will continue to discuss how and what spoils each one is going to settle for.

    The red boli-Burgessie and entourage will continue to employ the Mossak-Fonsecas of the world to complete their looting and golden exile plans.

    And the impoverished and broken population of former Venezuela will continue its descent into hell.

    This is a long game for the ones running the show, its about sucking dry a formerly relatively wealthy nation and leaving it so weakened that it will change the geopolitics of the Andean and Caribbean areas, facilitating increasing drug production and commercialization, future oil E&P in a weak jurisdiction (cheap!) and providing a new ideological battle ground for experimentation.

    Emi and others, I really commend your efforts and patriotic integrity, I just think most are not calling the game as it is, and that makes it impossible for the resistance to think and act straight.

    • “…providing a new ideological battle ground for experimentation.”

      Interesting take on the situation. Can you expand on what you mean by the above?

      • Roy, what I mean is that every new stakeholder on ex-venezuela’s fate is free to try out and experiment more freely…

        Bear with me through some examples:

        Narco inc. will use wide body jets to transport in bulk to Africa and reduce per kilo costs,
        will employ the national armed forces as gophers and minions to run their errands, etc.

        Big oil will “negotiate” the most leonine terms and conditions (to their favor) whit its counterpart (who I don’t know!)

        Arms inc. is already making a killing (no pun intended) in weapons and ammunition s(and defense systems) deals.

        Geopolitical stakeholders and neighbors will ” move the fence ” into our weakened territory (Say good bye to Las Aves, Delta y esequibo, Amazonas and Bolivar estates?, Zulia?…) & provide food and other staples for humanitarian aid.
        (Some will pay the cost somewhat by having a Syria type refugee crisis to deal with!)

        Cuba will continue its trend of very innovative triangulation and service agreements to make a buck on every buck “spent by the state abroad, and incur a fee for “sports” and medicine” and other consultant help. Most importantly it will continue to use ex-venezuela as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the US and others.

        I am not sure what The Vatican, Canada and Spain stand to gain, but Colombia and their “peace process” i well into gaining important concessions from their involvement.

        Russia, Iran fill the blanks…

        Venezuela is a lawless place open for international business.

  10. It strikes me that having large numbers of people show up at the CNE to verify their signatures may not work out well for the CNE.

    • Exactly!
      They are going to promote nationwide rallies of angry, determined people at their doors.
      7000 (4249 + company) people in front of Yaracuy’s CNE offices is going to be intimidating and a good show. Multiply that by 22 nationwide and it is going to be a wake-up call for the country.

        • Sure they can also spread it in time, checking only 70 per day for a total of 30 business days (which now should be like 4 months) and making them coincide with the days when they can buy food.

          All of that can happen and will happen if necessary, and it will extend the purgatory that has become Venezuela. Chavistas are determined to burn down to the last shred of “goodwill” they may have with people.

          Because they do not know when to quit.
          They burned their ships log time ago
          and now is the turn of the country.

          Event their people are asking them to stop:

          • Lucky for us, the length of the signature-validation period depends entirely on how fast the MUD can get all its voters to scan their fingerprints, and theres a maximum of 5 days for this. So, this is kind of a good thing. (That’s what I mean when I say the MUD has a little wiggle room to assert itself in some parts of this process)

  11. What is wrong with you people? You can’t sleep on your rights. The MUD should have blown it up with strikes and protests the money they FIRST invented some arbitrary condition that wasn’t in the constitution, like collecting 1% of signatures.

    You’re basically inviting yourself to be bullied like this. They know you’re gonna take it on the chin. The AN should have pushed the nuclear launch button and caused a constitutional crisis/civil war the FIRST moment they refused to seat 3 legislators.

    If you think that it is possible to win a chess game where your opponent can move his pieces in any direction not mandated by the rules, then you’ve already lost…

      • Think again, how many colectios are actually willing to risk their bacons against at least twice the amount of at least thrice angry people who are more than willing to happily shove a machete up some malandro’s ass?

        Sure, sure, guns and that, AK47s and those, although there hasn’t any proof of any colectivo armed with AK47 killing protesters, dolar today would have made a traffic wormhole with such pictures; what colectivos have are guns and bikes, and yes, guns are still pretty lethal indeed, but, as I said before, the colectivos aren’t likely to go and happily open fire against a furious mob which has pretty much proved that can lynch them in a moment’s notice (Because some colectivos got lynched during the 2014 protests, there are videos and photos, yet chavismo didn’t even say a peep about those because they need to make them look invincible)

        Why I say this? Because colectivos got theit colective asses flattened after the infamous Miguel Rodríguez “Headshot” Torres ordered to kill colectivo boss Odreman after the protests (And Juan Montoya got offed too during the protests) along several of their henchmen, which was considered by these loyal zealots as a metaphorical middle finger in thanks for their services to the revolution.

        So, you have now these three factors:

        * People are MUCH angrier and some others way more desperate than in 2014, which makes them more dangerous.

        * There are MANY MORE people angry against Maduro and all his regime.

        * And colectivos now know they might get killed as their reward once they outlive their usefulness.

        So, colectivos and paramilitar hordes aren’t chavismo’s trump card here, that’s why they’re trying to intimidate with the FAN, putting high traitor Padrino to almost claim he’ll slaughter anyone that dares to say a peep against Maduro, BUT, that’s where the “colectivo’s pro” is lost, as said murders could be directly attributed to Maduro’s government, opposed to those commited by colectivos that are an informal structure with no legal connection to the government.

  12. Emiliana, thank you for elucidating the virtually impossible process of organizing/effecting a Recall Referendum with this Govt./CNE rules, especially within the necessary time frame. The CNE admission of the Recall process initiation, I believe, was only to act as an escape valve, like on a stove pressure cooker, to try to delay further into the future (correr la arruga) the explosion of popular or military discontent. Unless this discontent is pervasive/massive, the Recall Referendum will be blocked in the time frame necessary to oust Chavismo from the Presidency. That said, I only now am beginning to believe that Chavismo probably will not be able to contain a popular or military explosion for much longer. The personal economic situation of the vast DE majority Pueblo poor is simply dire, many are literally going hungry, many are losing weight, and others are dying for lack of medicines/hospital care/holdup bullets. Meanwhile, the Guri is proximate to losing half its electrical power, which, to provide magnitude, would, if concentrated, leave Venezuela’s 10 central states without electricity for 24 hours a day. Something, even with this Petro-Peon passive Pueblo, should probably give, as evidenced by the localized disturbios/saqueos of the past several days with the relatively mild electricity cutbacks just started, which are nothing compared to what’s coming with the Guri 50% cutback. Sure, the Oppo must go through the Recall motions, but, if there is any logic left to analyzing Venezuela’s situation, events should probably effect Regime change before a Recall, unless (a big if) they force a successful Recall, and the Pueblo can go without sufficient food/electricity/medicines/etc. for another year or so….

    • I just got word that over 500,000 signatures were collected today. Also, check out our map of growing social unrest.

  13. New favorite word (cortesy of no other than Mr. Nicmar Evans) Kakistocracy.

    It is like the ancient greeks travelled through time and witnessed Maduro’s government.

  14. […] task of organizing, indexing, scanning and collating the 2 million + signatures collected so far in the first step of the ridiculously cumbersome process to recall president Maduro. It’s a cumbersome process, made all the worst by CNE’s insistence that it’s not […]

  15. […] For Maduro, timing is crucial. An emboldened opposition is pushing a referendum to drive him from power through a recall vote. The recall needs to happen by Jan. 10, though, to trigger new elections. After that date, power would simply be transferred to his vice-president, thus locking-in “Chavismo” — the brand of authoritarian populism that Chavez built — through the end of the term in 2019. So not surprisingly, Maduro’s bureaucrats are doing their best to stonewall. […]


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