For Friday, August 12, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
The two most unpopular presidents in Latin America, Juan Manuel Santos and Nicolás, met in Puerto Ordaz. The big issue of the discussion was the reopening of the Colombian-Venezuelan border, which has been closed for almost year. Foreign Affairs ministers Holguín and Rodríguez said in their meeting last week that their respective bosses would reveal the schedule and conditions for gradual reopening. The first phase establishes pedestrian walkways in five points, starting on Saturday, August 13th, from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Both presidents were concerned about recovering the minimum message: the need for an organized, orderly and peaceful border, with more control and surveillance against violence and smuggling. But not a single word about the alleged paramilitary groups who “forced” Nicolás to unilaterally decide to close the border. Nothing about how this shutdown worsened the issues, since it didn’t end with smuggling, it didn’t improve homicide or kidnapping rates, and much less solved scarcity, proving that the problem lies in restrictions, not in product extraction.
15 countries support the recall referendum
While Nicolás and Delcy smiled for the cameras in Puerto Ordaz’s meeting, it was reported that 15 members of the Organization of American States demand Venezuelan authorities to move on without delay with the recall referendum process against Nicolás. Inspired by the guarantee of the exercise of constitutional rights -and Tibisay Lucena’s recent statements-, they want the following steps to activate the referendum to take place “clearly, concretely and without delays,” because they hope this election would contribute to “a swift and effective solution for the current political, economic and social issues” in Venezuela. This statement is the first step that OAS’s member states take since the Permanent Council meeting on June 23rd, in which the gradual process to apply the Democratic Charter was opened, after Secretary General Luis Almagro presented his report.
Bernardo Álvarez, Venezuelan ambassador before the OAS, can also exercise projection and use vulgarity as a defense mechanism. In the Permanent Council’s ordinary weekly meeting, after Canada’s delegation read the joint statement, previously shared by the U.S., he said: “It’s astonishing that I’m just now hearing about something that involves my country, and through a tweet of a statement posted on the web by the Department of State, what a coincidence.” According to Álvarez, this joint statement is anti-diplomatic and a proof of how divided the OAS is, remarking that: “This happened once before with Cuba. Attacking Venezuela is like ordering pizza on the phone, it’s cheap and when pizza arrives, everybody applauds,” adding that they should be careful because they could be dividing the OAS even more, inviting them to issue statements about other countries that, in his view, have more severe problems than Venezuela.
There were more people in the condominium board meeting in my building last week, than in the chavista “rally” in Nueva Esparta this Thursday. Diosdado Cabello spoke with as much energy as that of his meagre audience. The mandatory insults, a bit of anger, but none of the euphoria he got in Valencia. He urged government leaders to hit the streets to solve people’s problems and concluded that, out of 13,000 freely appointed and removed public offices (popularly known as 99,) they found 4,000 officials who signed against Nicolas and “that can’t be allowed, carajo!” Such an autogol, but it wasn’t the only one, he also admitted that there are problems in the implementation of the CLAPs: “We know that it isn’t the best, but it will allow us to overcome the current situation.” 2 to 0. No medal or diploma, eh?
After the resounding success of “We won’t help you get out of poverty so you can become escuálidos,” Héctor Rodríguez, chief of the PSUV parliamentary caucus, said this Thursday that the UN’s statement about Venezuela was requested by the opposition and that the U.S. would invade Venezuela, should they accept the crisis. The wet dreams of any high ranking chavista involve marines disembarking in La Guaira. But it didn’t end there. Rodríguez wanted to prove the PSUV’s partisan discipline with institutions, saying that they respected the TSJ decision that declared that there was no coup d’Etat in April of 2002. Sadly, he didn’t say that it was precisely this decision which motivated the reform of the law of the TSJ in 2004, infesting the tribunal with chavistas. Finally, Rodríguez introduced a protective measure before the TSJ against the National Assembly for contempt regarding the decision that orders the removal of Amazonas’ lawmakers.
Add this to the contrapunteo of endorsements and flatteries between the constituyentes and CNE’s chief, Tibisay Lucena who said -in another fit of lucidity- that the Constitution has to be good because “its preamble is a poem.” The ornamental vice-president, Aristóbulo Istúriz, shamelessly lied by saying that the Constitution was voted into force by the entire country, when participation for that referendum in April of 99 didn’t even reach 38%. The tour continues, as useless as they are.
The dead signatories
Although this is obvious, the 1% signatures that support the MUD as requestors of the recall referendum was constituted by each citizen who could go through every filter imposed by the CNE. This dismisses Jorge Rodríguez’s obsessive and empty theory about the great fraud. But this Thursday, Roberto Picón, electoral advisor for the MUD, took the time to explain in detail what were the causes of that bunch of supposedly dead people who signed: out of the 10,000 claimed by the PSUV, 97% are due to transcription mistakes, data interpretation and signature form omission.
In the transcription and scanning process carried out by the CNE, technicians couldn’t compare the data delivered with the Electoral Registry, so they couldn’t correct the interpretation mistakes when transcribing cédulas. The omissions are human mistakes when introducing the data in the form and ambiguity mistakes happen due to the CNE technicians’ free interpretation about the numbers written by citizens. The CNE says in its assessment report about the data transcription and scanning process, that they had a 2.84% margin of error when transcribing data: approximately 55,000 voters couldn’t validate their signature with a captahuellas and were excluded in this first phase of the process.
The MUD expects the CNE to deliver the data base with annotations on each voter, to know what was the real percentage of voters excluded due to various mistakes in the process, although the PSUV knows that months ago, despite that being confidential information. This data will be extremely important for the innumerable lawsuits introduced by the PSUV against the MUD, and which the MUD depends on to remain valid as a party and as requestors of the recall against Nicolás.