The Struggle for Venezuela’s Soul
by Stephen Lendman
Washington wants Latin and Central America recolonized, US-controlled tyranny replacing sovereign independence throughout the hemisphere.
At an Association of Caribbean States summit last week in Havana, Cuban President Raul Castro expressed alarm about Latin American and Caribbean “turbulence,” calling it the result “of an imperialist and oligarchic counteroffensive against popular and progressive governments.”
Washington orchestrated Brazil’s coup, wrongfully impeaching President Dilma Rousseff, forcing her to step down for 180 days, facing Senate trial controlled by right-wing fascists sure to convict her – despite no legitimate grounds. She committed no crimes.
Washington wants neoliberal harshness replacing Venezuelan Bolivarian fairness. Its tactics include making its economy scream, causing enormous hardships for ordinary people, orchestrating violent street protests, and wanting President Nicolas Maduro ousted by coup, recall referendum or perhaps assassination if other methods fail.
A previous article explained the following. Article 72 of Venezuela’s Constitution states “(a)ll magistrates and other offices (including the president) filled by popular vote are subject to revocation.”
“Once half (their) term of office…has elapsed, 20% of (registered) voters (by petition may call for) a referendum to revoke such official’s mandate.”
“When a number of voters equal to or greater than the number of those who elected the official vote in favor of revocation (provided the total is 20% or more of registered voters), the official’s mandate shall be deemed revoked…”
Things aren’t as straightforward as they seem. Verifying the authenticity of signatures collected precedes any further action.
According to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena, rampant fraud was discovered. Over 605,000 signatures were found defective and disqualified – including thousands belonging to deceased Venezuelans, others to minors too young to vote, as well as people with nonexistent identity cards.
An investigation into massive fraud may follow. Venezuelans wishing to withdraw their names may do so. Others will have their fingerprints checked for authenticity.
At that point, CNE authorities have 20 working days to determine if opposition elements may move on to try collecting signatures from the required 20% of the electorate needed to hold a recall referendum.
If gotten and verified, a process requiring months to complete, one will be organized within 90 days. Removing Maduro requires support from more than the 50.6% of voters supporting his 2013 election.
On Saturday, he ruled out a referendum this year, saying if its “requirements are met, it will be next year, and that’s it.” Otherwise, no recall vote will be held.
Timing is important. If held by January 10, 2017, a new election will be called if Maduro loses. If things go against him after this date, Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz will serve as president until January 2019, when his term expires.
A recall petition submitted on May 2 got 1.8 million signatures, over one third so far disqualified as fraudulent or ineligible. Verifying the remaining numbers must be completed before taking any further action, months of effort required.
Dark forces in Washington and Venezuela may not wait. Past coup attempts against Hugo Chavez and Maduro failed. Perhaps Obama intends another before leaving office.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.