For Wednesday, August 10, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, said this Tuesday that the collection process of the 20% signatures to activate the Recall Referendum might take place in late October, and the election will be held 90 days after that. Although her entire presentation signaled that the recall will be held in 2017, allow me to formulate it like this: if eight million Venezuelans or more sign and place their fingerprints with their will to revoke Nicolás during those three days in October, it won’t matter how much they try to delay the process, that 20% would actually signify Nicolás’s recall.
Tibisay doesn’t know how to read
The exclusively chavista audience revealed the event’s purpose. The presentation included: the recall regulations, previous experiences and the 2016 request. She interrupted her presentation to greet TSJ justice Maikel Moreno, right when she was saying that democracy’s not focused on parties but on citizens. She accompanied every phrase she said with an unnecessary explanation that invariably started with “Which means,” evidence of how stupid she thinks Venezuelans are.
She said the most important thing early on: (1) the recall involves two groups with opposite rights, those who want to revoke the president and those who voted for him; (2) the schedule can’t be violated (but rights sure can, and with total impunity) and (3) all of the CNE’s experience and technical capacity doesn’t allow them to guarantee a fast and safe election. The rest was paja y carraspeo. She used her index finger to read the pages prepared for her, the slides she couldn’t explain, the anecdotes she couldn’t take benefit from, while the rest of us counted the buttons she didn’t close on her pink jacket. Tibisay looked just like Dolores Umbridge.
Tibisay gathered all the arguments wielded by chavismo against the recall and tried to give them a legal support. Without mentioning the illegal delays and blocks that they’ve used to stall the process for 2016, she said that the CNE will decide between September 14th and 16th, whether or not there can be a 20% signature collection process, even though the law establishes an earlier date. Despite mentioning “constitutional mandate” approximately 50 times, she said nothing about regional elections. This is the relevant part: the 20% will take place in late October. It’s vital to demand the electoral schedule with popular pressure. This story can and must have a constitutional and democratic conclusion, no matter what the PSUV does to trigger a different outcome.
The other rector
Luis Emilio Rondón, the absent rector, expressed his astonishment for Tibisay Lucena’s statement, explaining that “the 38 days included in the schedule for preparing the technological platform, are more than enough to fully deploy the infrastructure of over 14,000 voting centers at the CNE’s disposal, to guarantee Venezuelans the exercise of their political rights,” emphasizing that the CNE must act according to the principle of urgency established by law.
Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of Miranda state, said that Tibisay Lucena doesn’t dare to tell Venezuelans that there won’t be a recall referendum this year: “Venezuelans want a constitutional solution (…) We remain firm and we continue building political change for 2016,” remarking that the CNE has violated the regulation on referendums from the start. Liliana Hernández, leader at Un Nuevo Tiempo, said: “If the process was transparent, she wouldn’t have given that confusing two-hour explanation (…) There’s time after the signature collection (…) Tibisay made something quite clear: she gets her orders from Miraflores and she won’t accept popular pressure, and the most absurd part is that it’s us Venezuelans who pay for her salary. The only option now is to pressure the CNE.”
Others confirmed the call to march on September 1st, challenged Nicolás to submit to the referendum, and suggested the application of the principle of civilian disobedience if the government blocks all avenues for an electoral solution.
According to the Constitution, regional elections should take place this year due to the end of the gubernatorial term. In addition to commenting on Tibisay Lucena’s presentation, Vicente Bello, MUD representative before the CNE, remarked that there’s no time for these elections to be held this year. With some haste, they could take place in June, 2017. The reasons behind this argument are: that the CNE lacks the budget to do the operations; that voting table members haven’t been notified (the notification and training process demands at least five months); the National Institute of Statistics hasn’t made projections to define the circumscriptions, and the suppliers of the electoral material used by the CNE need dollars to import them. Bello said that the PSUV doesn’t want to commit to any electoral process because “they’re going to lose them all.”
Nicolás started ready to waste many hours in his cadena. After a few absurd initial thoughts, he dedicated a long time to the Venezuelan delegation in the Olympic Games, speaking of champions, even though none of them has earned a medal yet. He evaluated the athletes as he himself would like to be evaluated: they have no achievements, but at least they tried; they haven’t won, but they’ve had a great performance; we have to face the group of death in Basket, just like he has to face the economic war. He included a new term to his glossary of insults: AN opposition lawmakers are zombies now. The testimonials from Macarao about the Misión Barrio Nuevo, Barrio Tricolor were as fake as they were tough, a summary of the saddest prejudices of the polarization encouraged by chavismo. Minutes later, he’d reinforced that idea as he talked with minister Ricardo Molina and showed that any dissidence can be villified, that mockery’s his best tool. He seems to be proud for Tibisay’s performance, so maybe we’ll have to wait for this Wednesday, to know if he says anything important. For now, he wastes necessary resources to reinforce his mediocre propaganda of unsupported achievements.
This is what’s important: whether she wanted it or not, Tibisay Lucena set a date for the 20%. Although Plan B, the possibility of invalidating the MUD, can still be played by the TSJ, all efforts must be focused on the 20% signature collection drive. The activation of the recall in 2016 will depend on how many people participate and support this requisite.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.