Opposition in Venezuela seek referendum to recall Pres. Maduro

Global Business

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By some estimates a million people marched against the government on the streets of Caracas on Sept 1. The opposition’s main demand: a referendum to recall Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro said his opponents are “fascists.” He considers the recall movement part of a U.S.-backed “economic war” against his government.

CCTV America’s Stephen Gibbs reports the story.

Opposition in Venezuela seek referendum to recall Pres. Maduro

Opposition in Venezuela seek referendum to recall Pres. Maduro

By some estimates a million people marched against the government on the streets of Caracas on Sept 1. The opposition’s main demand: a referendum to recall Nicolas Maduro. Maduro said his opponents are “fascists.” He considers the recall movement part of a U.S.-backed “economic war” against his government.

“The putschists and terrorists will go to jail. No more coups, no more violence, or politics. Caracas wants peace. Caracas loves peace, and Caracas will get peace thanks to people who are mobilized, with the people on the street,” Maduro said.

President Maduro is presiding over a country in a deep and dangerous decline. Shortages are widespread. Inflation is running at over 700 percent. And many basics, from medicine to food, are hard – or impossible – to find.

Maduro blamed the crisis on a slump in the global price of oil and political enemies at home and abroad.

But most Venezuelans blamed him. More than 80 percent said they would vote to cut short his term in office.

Venezuela’s constitution allows a recall referendum half-way into any presidential term. But organizing it is far from easy.

That’s partly because the supposedly neutral institution overseeing the process – the National Electoral council or CNE – is seen as working in the government’s, not in the opposition’s, interest.

Last April, the opposition went ahead with the first stage of the process. It needed to gather signatures from 1 percent of the electorate- collecting almost 10 times that. But the CNE then took months “verifying” the signatures, before finally – in August – declaring that 1 percent had called for a recall.

Now to the second stage of this process: according to the constitution, at least fifth of the electorate needs to formally demand a referendum to take place. The CNE is allowing this – but not making it simple.

It said 20 percent of the electorate in every state needs to ask for the recall. The vote will take place over three days, with polling stations open just seven hours a day. Less than a third of the voting machines the CNE asked for are being made available.

And the CNE said the full referendum can’t take place until 2017.

If a recall referendum is held before Jan 10, 2017 and Maduro loses, a new presidential election will be held probably marking the end of socialist rule in Venezuela.

But if the recall is held after that date, and Maduro loses, the consequences are far less dramatic. The vice president – who’s a government loyalist – takes over until 2019.


Francisco Monaldi on Venezuela’s oil industry

For more on the oil industry’s influence on Venezuela’s economy, CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Francisco Monaldi, Fellow in Latin American Energy Policy at Baker Institute of Rice University.