Halfway through Thursday afternoon, a Corpoelec pick-up truck pulled up in front of Henrique Capriles’s Bello Monte HQ building. Four guys in Corpoelec uniforms stepped out and made their way to the signature collection area just outside. The Capriles volunteers there took a minute to size them up before the first said, “Mira pana, where is it that we can go put our signatures down?”

It was that kind of day in Venezuela yesterday. The internal debates within MUD about whether to aim for a limited, “surgical” signature gathering drive centered on easy-to-mobilize party activists or to go for a broader citizen mobilization became a moot point: an avalanche of frustrated people poured out into the streets to sign, and show the enormous thirst there is for an orderly way out of Venezuela’s socialist catastrophe.

Nicolás Maduro, normally so loquacious, went into head-in-the-sand mode, simply refusing to address what was happening all around him. His shock is understandable. Nobody -not in the opposition, not in the government- expected numbers like these.

CNE had given us a month to collect 197,978 signatures to begin the recall process.  Many multiples of that have come out to sign, handily exceeding the target in all 24 states. How many? The Wall Street Journal says 1.1 million by the end of day one. We understand the tally by the end of day two is substantially higher than that, but we haven’t been able to confirm a number.

Yes, this is just the first step in a ridiculously slow, needlessly tortuous, laughably unfair process.

Yes, what we have now are raw, unprocessed signatures – not all of which will be deemed valid by CNE.

Yes, 197,978 actual voters will still need to be validated and then show up, in person, at the CNE seats in their state capitals – potentially hundreds of kilometers away –  to validate their signatures.

Yes, that’s only an amuse bouche for the much bigger challenge: the 20% of each state’s electoral roll – a total of 3,959,560 people – who will need to sign to actually request a referendum.

Yes, there are still a million excuses CNE could come up with to scuttle the process.

An yes, we will eventually need 7,585,579 actual votes to recall Maduro on referendum day.

El camino es duro, pero es el camino.

Today, though, was not a day for any of that. Today was a day to know hope.

 

 

22 COMMENTS

  1. Forget Corpolec. There are uniformed members of the GNB and the FANB signing the petition! At the rate they are collecting signatures, and with the enthusiasm to do so, they just might be able to get to the 7,585,579 needed to vote Maduro out of office. If they could, that would send a strong message that Maduro should just resign now. Not that he would…

  2. Yes, a breath of fresh air and hope, however at only 15 days of a total electric blackout, I wonder if VZ would need to go through the referendum high hurdles.
    I just can’t picture people taking it anymore.
    Maduro flees to Cuba, Military takes power and hopefully they would call for elections within two months or so.

    • My concern is the military. Clearly, Maduro must be paying them off, at least at the highest levels. Can the people of Venezuela be assured that the military is loyal to the people and not the guy who butters their bread?

      • The generals may be with Maduro and maybe some of the colonels, but orders have to get passed down through all of the ranks. There is no way to be sure, but I think the majors and lieutenants would rebel against orders to slaughter their own people. I have been told by various officers and enlisted men that this is a major topic of conversation in the barracks. After all, their families are suffering the same as everyone else.

        • Exactly.

          Generals are not trigger-pullers, and mid-level officers must know that they could end up on trial at the Hague if they open up on suffering, innocent people. They’ve got to be thinking “no way I’m going down for these *&%$#! generals…”

  3. People are clearly responding to calls. Why the heck aren’t we protesting 24/7?

    I’m glad with the signs so far and I hope the great turnout is a wakeup call to realize that people are responding, people are willing to. We need the streets.

    I hope they don’t dare to put all the eggs on the Revocatorio basket.

  4. “El camino es duro, pero es el camino.”

    The perfect way to end your analysis.

    Roadblocks will greet you everywhere, because the Chavistas love their power more than you or I will ever know.

    • I don’t actually think it is all about power here – what is in peril is their livelihoods, claro y raspao. If the gov. fall so does their income and many will (or so I truly hope) face justice

    • I don’t really think that they are gripping on so tightly for the sake of having power per se but rather because their livelihoods depend on the permanence of the gov.

      No more totalitarianism = no more lining of their pockets + possible (and I strongly hope so) confrontation with justce

      • Livelyhoods? They are all rich enough to last at least a couple of generations. They don’t need a paycheck.

        They fighting to stay out of jail or worse.

  5. It’s not necessarily whether the CNE CAN stop the process. In theory, the gvt could mobilize the colectivos and simply assassinate all opposition. It’s whether it can bring itself to.

    I am shocked and deeply relieved about this news. I think it is the right type of force for the right type of show of force to pressure the CNE into compliance. All hurdles from here on out should be thought of not as desperate last-ditch attempts, but as cautious testings of waters.

    If we keep our cool and keep coming strong, I think we got this. The historical factors are just too in our favor.

  6. El camino sí es duro, and it still stretches a long way off into the distance. But let’s stop for a moment and take a brief look over our shoulders at the road behind us. 6D elections were held, opposition had a daring, effective, and well executed plan for fraud prevention, and the popular response was too overwhelming to deny. None of those things were a foregone conclusion.

    You are right – this is a day for hope, one more step in a very long march. The opposition shall reap if it does not faint.

  7. This is good display of civism and realization of what every one knows, but it is a lot of bullshit at the end.

    Call me pessimistic, Maduro & Co. knows that a peaceful transition of power will kill Chavismo forever.

    Not only that, they have demonstrated over and over again their willingness to bend, trick, interpret and ultimately cheat every law in order to stay in power.

    Once the BS between the AN, the CNE and the TSJ runs it course, then they have the guns through that euphemism called “law order”, then the military, the militias and lastly the colectivos.

    It also occurs to me that this process actually helps Maduro because it gives people hope. And that hope distracts from the more immediate issues at hand.

    Think about it:

    Do you sincerely believe that a the verge of losing power the Maduro’s boys would give it up just because of a bunch of signatures. They didn’t even relinquish some degree of power with all the votes for the AN!.

    Do you feel that all these harassment from the CNE in the form of a recall process is actually designed to call a referendum.

    Do you for a second believe that with all the corruption, all the legal bullshit these people have gone through to stay in power and all the vast and humongous amount of shit they delivered to loot $300 billion to ultimately transform Venezuela in a narco state, in a client state of Cuba and lately a failed country…they would all the sudden have a moment of conscience and give up in order to face investigation, prosecution and that thing that does not have a true translation in Spanish called accountability.

    As Bane said: “there is not true despair without hope”

    We are dealing with thugs people, civism ain’t going to make it happen.

    Get ready for another disappointment…

    • colomine, I agree with many of the things you wrote here.
      BUT! let me remind you that everybody is aware of this already at least since 2003!.

      As the plan goes, we are trying all the means necessary to get Maduro out.
      The referendum is just one of them and is actually one the easiest and relatively effortless way.
      Signing a paper twice and voting. That is a bargain in my book from a citizen perspective.
      Unlike previous attempts since 2003, pressure is coming now from all fronts and the adverse conditions this time are against the corrupt, incompetent regime.

      There is no way in hell Maduro can maintain himself in power until 2019. No way
      This is the exact same scenario that Chavez would had faced back in the day if not for the oil boom at that time.

      • Torovolt, I sincerely wish you realize your vision.

        The only thing I believe this recall may achieve is that after a huge display of signatures combined with the timely dismissal of Rouseff (I am not holding my breath on the immediate materialization of that, not until the Olympics games are over), there will be enough momentum to kick off the Democratic Charter procedures.

        Whether or not the Democratic Charter produces something material, that still would require some cooking time. And to be honest with you, you need the US to pressure up the uncommitted (Santo Domingo for example), the pragmatic (Chile) and the players (Haiti, Costa Rica).

        Meanwhile you have a good chunk of Venezuelans in power that still believe in Maduro or they are too deep in this shit to give up now. Read TSJ justices, CNE, military commanders, lawmakers and party cronies. They will continue to do Maduro’s deeds until the bitter end.

        Yes, this recall thing shows that there is a side that is willing to correctly use the law and the tools at hand to achieve a peaceful transition. I just think that the most tangible achievement would be to impart fear across Maduro’s supporters. That fear may actually get them to make more mistakes but I am far to believe they will give up. There is just too much at stake for them.

        Who knows, may be at the verge of the choice of violence some may relent and that could start a chain reaction that would eventually topple this government.

        However, that optimism do not pass a fact check.

        • Well, the situation is changing rapidly as the crisis get worse.
          The Oppo is getting momentum and it might prompt an alliance shift.
          The military can rectify and back the referendum, who knows.
          There are many people that just goes with the power not ideology or personal convictions.
          All bets are off at this point.
          You can only do what you control.
          I think the AN and the Oppo in general are doing a good job considering the hard conditions and they deserve our support.
          Pessimism will only help Maduro.
          We can be optimistic with both feet on the ground.
          More likely the regime collapses by unplanned events.
          The looming massive electric blackout seems to be a good candidate to trigger such thing. It has serious consequences that affect directly a large part of the population.
          A massive outburst of fearless peoples’ anger would be the last nail on Maduro’s coffin.
          The situation is unsustainable and he is not a charismatic leader.

  8. A proud moment. As we know, a good number of these people are putting their jobs and their personal welfare on the line and I hope that people will restrain themselves from circulating identifying pictures and that sort of thing.

  9. “Nobody – not in the government, not in the opposition – was expecting the avalanche of people we’ve seen yesterday and today signing to request Maduro’s recall.”

    Why not? I expected nothing less.

  10. “El camino es duro, pero es el camino.”

    Realmente, debería decir “El camino es duro, pero es UN camino PACÍFICO y SENCILLO.”

    Las vías pacíficas son MUCHO MÁS FÁCILES que cualquier violenta.

  11. I think the revocatory will likely fail as a project by itself, I mean, I think is highly likely the Gov. will put an end to it in some way, mainly by extending the date past January 10th. However even considering that’s a fail I think there are other, more subtle things happening under surface that slowly set the ground for a change, and the revocatory has played a big part in this. Some months ago the possibility of getting Maduro out of picture was not a part of the political narrative of the country. Yes, opps dreamt with it, many venezuelans dreamt of it, but it was vague and something that “will happen”…because he’ll die someday, right? And “el tiempo de Dios es perfecto” as a hopeless hope. Nowadays is one of the main topics and the possibility is NOW, even if Maduro survives until 2019 the fact is that even Diosdado Cabello had to dedicate some minutes in his program to address any possibility of the “rejection from the President”. When I saw that I felt incredible. That’s a victory, in a way. Venezuela now has to create more spaces where other possibilities are, well…possible.

    Did you really imagine post-chavism when Chávez was alive? It seemed endless! A year ago I think many of us felt the same way, even with Chávez DEAD! “Is this ending ANYTIME? MY GOD!” Cubazuela felt as the future for many. In the last months, a very short time frame, many impossible things have become worlds venezuelans are imagining themselves living in. A lot of venezuelans have REALLY thought about living in a country where there’s not a chavista president. It settled in the culture. That’s a break point of no return. Many still feel Cubazuela is the future and yeah, it might be. But now the question of what country do we wish to live in is raging. It’s been YEARS since that question resounded so heavily among the people, the path was always something among the frames chavismo allowed, and the space was not so big: they just decided for you. Chavismo killed any way of political narrative and democratic culture. With the country in this state there’s still so little political variety and it’s confined to selected demographics, mainly. As I read in the article about Maduro’s crazy 30% popularity given the circumstances: “We tend not to see it because in the social circles we move in, we basically never ever interact with people who think this way.” Is this normal considering the circumstances? I lived outside of Venezuela for many years and when I visited recently this surprised me so much. I really hope more dialogue in a trans-class way grows from this moment. We NEED it.

    Of course the hunger and misery recalls for inmmediate solutions. I wish it will be done by tomorrow, also. However those little breaks in the stone end up changing the stone as a whole, and may even lead to the stone breaking. Venezuela is so different now compared to just six months ago. I find it incredible.

    Maybe there will be blood or maybe we’ll turn into Cubazuela and venezuelans will never fight for their freedom. Maybe the revocatory works, even if it’s past January 10th: maybe the next chavista president will be more flexible, have higher moral standards or the situation will force changes. But for a short frame of time political culture is alive again in Venezuela. The Opp in all it’s mistakes have made VISIBLE many things we all knew but now the Gov. is so obviously random and authoritarian it hurts, it’s so clumsy. All that is a stone in this long path. Is chavismo falls, the path will be hard and long too. The country is DESTROYED. I just hope more venezuelans start dreaming of a country where they can live differently, a place where you can draw a future. It’s POSSIBLE. We’ll see.

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