For Saturday, September 17, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
This Thursday, the National Elections Council decided to suspend its activities on Friday due to the “danger” represented by the protest. A poor excuse to keep putting off the announcement of the date and conditions for the 20% signature collection drive to activate the recall referendum. It’s a risky play for rectoras to inflame people’s anger through sheer cynicism and contempt for the law.
The real danger is in the spread of malaria without medications to treat it; the absence of public policies to improve food production and imports; the real danger is in SEBIN’s attempt to institute enforced disappearances and violations to due process as the norm, while the Supreme Tribunal of Justice blatantly supports PSUV interests, in an economy ruined by restrictions extended at leisure, despite their failures. The real danger is the PSUV. A danger to all prospects for development. There was real danger in the attitude of hundreds of police officers deployed between Chacao and Libertador municipalities, who forced us to cross streets, to go back on our steps, to stop for long whiles as chavista armed groups used Libertador avenue however they pleased, and public employees filled chavista rallies, with rag dolls and songs for el finado.
The Democratic Unity Roundtable’s report for the day included people wounded with firearms in Trujillo state, arbitrary detentions in Portuguesa and Zulia, and a significant drop in the number of protesters. In Caracas, for some mysterious reason, there were no soldiers, only the National Police and some pro-government malandros who even spoke to official media, warning escuálidos not to provoke them because they were “in peace.”
Yesterday, Nelson Bocaranda said on his radio show that there won’t be a referendum in 2016: “Sadly, and although it’s tough to say it, there won’t be a recall.” He said it in a grim tone but added nothing else. It’s a serious statement that demands explanations. It’s evident that everything hangs on CNE rectoras; the event depends on their political will. It’s not an accident that Tibisay Lucena appeared alongside PSUV authorities in Apure, or Tania D’Amelio’s tweets, or the “personal” statements issued by Socorro Hernández and Sandra Oblitas. The four of them have operated on behalf of the regime, blatantly delaying each referendum phase.
Jesús Chúo Torrealba, head of the MUD, said during the demonstration in Caracas, that the CNE wants to impose a regional 20% collection drive against the law: “We know that the statements prepared by most government loyalists in the CNE are unacceptable. We know that they plan to announce no more and no less than a 20% signature collection by state, that’s unacceptable and unconstitutional. We know that they’re preparing to install far less captahuellas than necessary (…) place the machines in traditionally chavista voting centers (…) not in places where voter density’s greater. That’s a trap,” he said before urging rectoras to desist in their attempts to obstruct the event because “the people’s on the street waiting for their announcement.”
Julio Borges, head of the MUD parliamentary caucus, denounced SEBIN’s attacks against the opposition leadership, which now include four leaders in Zulia state and a councilman in Anzoátegui state among their most recent detainees: “If the government thinks that by persecuting the democratic alternative (…) they’re going to hinder people’s will, they’re wrong. It gives us more strength to keep fighting,” he said and added that the CNE won’t prevent Venezuelans from exercising their constitutional right to vote.
Susana Malcorra, Argentina’s Foreign Affairs minister, said yesterday that Venezuela still has to fulfill several basic prerequisites to be a part of Mercosur and that the bloc has no intention of expelling them, because in case they don’t comply, member countries will have to meet and decide the next steps to follow. Malcorra remarked in Washington that founding countries made a strict review of Venezuela’s compliance with agreements, emphasizing the need for signed agreements to be sent to the legislative branch to be approved: “We hope that Venezuela will fulfill the requirements to be a part of Mercosur,” she said.
Lawmaker Timoteo Zambrano, MUD’s foreign affairs coordinator, said that the intentions of Mercosur’s four member states of “suspending and expelling” Venezuela from the bloc were unacceptable, claiming that the measure is a maneuver that affects thousands of Venezuelan migrants in those nations and remarking that, in case the measure was applied, Venezuela would also be suspended from Parlasur and thousands of Venezuelans who live in those countries would have to return to Venezuela: “In view of the confrontation of powers in the country, I find it incredible for these four nations to demand Venezuela to comply with legal reforms fundamentally in matters of trade, tax and customs which have to go through a legislative approval that is impossible due to political conflict,” he said, claiming that the main goal is to stop Venezuelan migration and remarking that it’s impossible to fulfill the requirements by December 1st, the agreed term.
In order to dismantle lawmaker Zambrano’s interpretation of the decision made by Mercosur’s founding members, I suggest you read Mariano de Alba in Prodavinci. He dismantles Zambrano’s statements in detail, grouping them in three highly educational blocks: immigration benefits, legal reform and Venezuela’s participation in Parlasur. The first person who should read it, of course, is lawmaker Zambrano himself.
There were fewer of us yesterday, but common emotion expressed strong conviction. The recall is a demand that transcends the opposition itself. Once more, there were no pro-PSUV demonstrations in any of the buildings of the Great Housing Mission I walked by. Either the PSUV took them all to Margarita, or the regrettable case of the old lady who was evicted this Thursday made quite a few rethink their options. Maybe they don’t bang pots in protest, but they’re going through rough times just like you and me. I had the chance to talk with several National Police officers, I’ll tell you about it later today. I hope Bocaranda explains on Twitter whatever sustains his bitter statement.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.