For Tuesday, September 27, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
The event that took place in Parque Miranda brought together diverse and divergent leaderships, all of which agreed to honor plurality and accept to hold the 20% signature collection drive to activate the recall referendum, although they don’t accept the unconstitutional conditions imposed by the CNE’s rectoras. They didn’t speak about the amount of voting centers or their location. They didn’t speak about the amount of captahuellas either, they only insisted that the collection must be national because that’s what article 72 of the Constitution establishes; as national as the cadena with which Nicolás blocked coverage of the event.
The MUD’s Statement
Jesús Chúo Torrealba, head of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, was in charge of presenting those who spoke during the event, as well as reading the statement that focuses on the signature collection days. “The people will force the regime to obey the Constitution,” the statement says, remarking that, after a process of discussions with several sectors, they agree that the recall referendum will take place this year because there are no technical or judicial reasons to delay it any further; that the goal for October 26th, 27th and 28th is to collect far more signatures than necessary to activate the referendum and also, calling for a march on Wednesday, October 12th.
No TV station covered the MUD’s event either when representatives from civil society spoke, or after that. The gap between political speeches and the imposed cadena was brief. Censorship does the job that self-censorship can’t.
Andrés Velázquez summed up the reasons why the government refuses to go to the polls. María Corina Machado spoke of the referendum struggle as epic and the importance of respecting diversity, working with transparency and courage, and said this is “the time for civil disobedience.” Henry Ramos Allup supported the call to respect the diversity of opinion that brings the MUD together and celebrated the fact that those differences are public knowledge, asking for strength to overcome the challenge of the 20%. Finally, Henrique Capriles asked people not to let indignation turn into frustration or resignation, because the time has come to prove that we’re the majority.
“Victory isn’t improvised, victory is built,” said Chúo Torrealba to close the event.
That’s how signature verifier Jorge Rodríguez referred to the opposition’s announcement that there will be a referendum in 2016, repeating that it’s impossible for it to take place, that they have to be either psychotic or schizoid to say that after the schedule announced by the rectoras and remarking that the opposition is losing the argument with which they achieved “December’s circumstantial victory.” He also spoke about the events to commemorate Robert Serra’s death, considering that his party’s marches are a “vaccine against the right’s violent thirst,” while he vowed to defend Christmas against the opposition’s threat. Yes, freedom is a threat for him.
Sadly, the signature verifier didn’t speak of how bad Nicolás’ administration is perceived by the people. According to pollster Venebarómetro, 76.4% of respondents disapprove of his work, including grassroots chavistas. 91.9% think that the country’s situation is negative, while only 7.4% considers that it’s good. Consequently, 70.9% of respondents think that Nicolás must leave the presidency as soon as possible. December’s circumstantial victory?
With his clownish face, although he makes nobody laugh. Nicolás was so moved by the start of the school year that he interrupted activities in a public school to claim and ask absurdities, to deliver the “five millionth” Canaima and to make a lousy reading of María Moñitos, who “invided” him, in his version. He demanded fees in private schools to be reviewed, asserting that 80% of education in Venezuela is public but saying nothing about the budgets available to those institutions to feed students. Nicolás travelled to Colombia to attend the signing of the peace agreement, remarking that he carries el finado’s spirit with him, calling him the great builder of peace in South America. Y su bocota, payasito, tan grandota y circular.
Hospitals at will
Defense minister and co-president Vladimir Padrino López, announced that the Armed Forces will be deployed to investigate how Venezuela’s hospitals are operating, also notifying about a reorganization of the State to fight corruption, because according to him: “The State has an obligation to prevent corruption from spreading within public administration.” Sadly, the Armed Forces have an astonishing record on the matter and the evidence lies in the price of the food basket for August, Bs. 382,925.20 -an increment of Bs. 20,058.47 in a month-, requiring 25.5 minimum wages to purchase it, with or without the Generals assigned to each product. “The gap between controlled prices and market prices is 3,399.2%,” reported Cendas-FVM. Add this to our everyday depreciation, which leaves us with a Simadi exchange rate of Bs. 655.10 per dollar.
The banner in the background at Parque Mirada showed the word “obstacles” without the forst “s.” It was important to show serious unity, but this was the time to talk with precision, the event was unnecessarily long. I understand the relevance of offering everbody their quota of representation, but they were answering to the regime’s abuse, not holding an assembly. It was inexcusable for those “on stage” to take so long to play their parts. An event like this demands severity, attention towards speakers and the conviction that every gesture conveys something. The MUD has some spokespeople who do a better job when they remain silent and this was demonstrated by the public’s reactions at Parque Miranda.
Those who spoke should’ve focused their strategy in successfully expressing the common message: we’re going to assume the 20% signature collection drive but we must change the condition that constitutes the biggest obstacle for its success, the collection by state. In order to change it, it’s necessary to show the CNE that the majority of the country wants it, because the possibility to demand -with people on the street- the referendum for 2016 depends on the success of the 20%. Both are titanic tasks and require the best leaders to inspire them, drive them and make them a reality.