Without the 20%

Your daily briefing for​ ​Friday,​ ​October​ ​21,​ ​2016.​ ​​Translated​ ​​by​ ​Javier​ ​Liendo.

Members of Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela walk into the National Electoral Council (CNE) headquarters in Caracas, on December 5, 2015. For the first time in 16 years of "Bolivarian revolution" under late president Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, polls show their rivals could now win a majority in the National Assembly. AFP PHOTO / LUIS ROBAYO / AFP / LUIS ROBAYO

For Friday, October 21, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Thursday night, after being notified by criminal courts -in Carabobo, Apure, Aragua and Bolívar- about the criminal complaints admitted for the crimes of “false attestation before a public authority, taking advantage of false actions and submitting false data to the Electoral Branch,” and precautionary measures ordering the postponement of any action that might have been generated as a consequence of the 1% signature collection required to validate the MUD’s request, the National Electoral Council issued a statement saying that they’ve suspended the collection of the 20% voter signatures by state, set for October 26th through 28th, until further judicial orders, claiming that they do it in respect for the Constitution. The rectoras even conclude their statement ratifying the call to national dialogue, offering their services to help provide the best conditions to make it happen.

The true change of course

This is the government’s only action in support of the hashtag their bots shared. PSUV’s outlets say that “the recall’s first phase was invalidated,” but technically speaking, it was only suspended. The responsibility for this obstruction to the constitutional right of the recall referendum falls on the CNE’s rectoras. If it was cheaper for them to carry out the Executive Branch’s decision with the support of five courts, it’s their problem, but this violation will be their responsibility. Why? Because the CNE reviewed all the signatures of the 1%, infamously delaying the process; because that 10,000 signatures they claim are fake, are actually the product of transcription mistakes committed by the technicians hired by the CNE; lastly, because the CNE established that the 1% signature collection drive was successful despite the roadblocks. Nicolás must be thinking that he’ll avoid the title of dictator if it’s the CNE’s rectoras who carry out this aberration.

The plan’s barbarity

This change on the board opens the way for violence. It’s obvious that the PSUV doesn’t care about the application of the Inter American Democratic Charter, the obstruction of any glimpse of democracy, the possibility of resolving conflicts through elections. It’s not a coincidence for Nicolás to have left the country in a “quick tour” right after the governors’ announcements on Twitter, celebrating the suspension of the 1% in their states, and right before the CNE’s announcement suspending the 20%. Nicolás has no problem violating the rights of millions of citizens, using the excuse of the 10,000 people whose identities were allegedly forged in a process that far exceeded the CNE’s requirements.

So, in this institutional aberration: the TSJ can approve the Nation’s Budget, the CNE is completely autonomous to decide when elections are to be held, and now some criminal courts can legislate about electoral matters. An aberration tailored for the PSUV, packed with leaderless villains, incapable of risking the 20% collection drive and massive participation that would overcome their obstacles and unmask them. It was better for the CNE to find safety in five judges who blocked the recall referendum almost simultaneously. The new judicial announcement will come when the referendum can no longer be held.

Six days to go

There’s no need to be distrustful to understand the intention of the identical and simultaneous decisions. In fact, they’re obviously trying to increase tensions by evidencing their “fraud,” mocking any kind of exercise of justice. It’s a malandro move, just like the malandros who created it. Since these are criminal courts -instead of administrative or electoral courts-, it’s obvious that they’re exceeding their attributions, that it was the CNE who had to interpret the documents because I repeat, it was the CNE who announced that the 1% had been achieved with the filtered signatures. It’s a barbarity for lesser courts to decide about a national election, a malandro move from a government that prefers to count on weapons, both legal (the military) and illegal (paramilitary armed groups) than on the necessary national majority and international support.

Criminal responsibility

We only knew about the prohibition to leave the country issued against Causa R’s Andrés Velásquez, but according to information on social media, similar orders have been issued against other MUD leaders. From his home state, Diosdado Cabello said that those who promoted the fraud must face criminal charges, adding that those responsible must be punished with prison: “We expect those responsible to be identified, arrested and imprisoned for their deception (…) All of the signature collection’s effects are dead and nullified, until they make amends, until they do their job without tricks,” said the lawmaker, before remarking that the remaining states could present their complaints as well.

In the next hours

That’s the term announced by the Democratic Unity Roundtable to issue their statement. Wasn’t this a probable scenario? Whatever their response, it’s evident that an offense of this magnitude -in case the government escapes political costs- will allow the CNE to caution political parties that only those without an open criminal proceeding can be validated, another way of illegalizing the opposition and then open an electoral schedule for just one participant: the PSUV; the only way for them to win another election in this country. Can we turn this outrage into street protest? Will the MUD be able to effectively call for the millions of people who won’t be able to support the request for a recall with our signature, to take to the streets to protest for our rights? They’ve destroyed all means for people’s will to be expressed, we’re in a dictatorship.

Although there were many serious events during the day, it’s impossible to write anymore.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.