VALC urges Washington to increase pressure for Venezuela recall referendum
The Venezuelan American Leadership Council (VALC) is urging the United States to increase pressure for a recall referendum in Venezuela. Although President Maduro’s regime reluctantly agreed that initial conditions have been fulfilled towards a democratic vote on his position, Maduro’s government is set to continue disrupting the process.
Following numerous delays, the regime-backed National Electoral Council (CNE) yesterday certified that the requirement to begin the referendum process, the collection of 200,000 signatures has been completed. The opposition had collected 1.85 million signatures within days.
A recent poll indicated that 88 per cent of likely voters would choose to oust Maduro in a recall referendum. Given such overwhelming popular support, the Maduro regime is persistently obstructing the referendum process, which constitutionally must be completed by the end of 2016 to unseat Maduro.
The CNE inexplicably took two months to hand relevant documents to the opposition to begin collecting signatures, only caving in under threat of a mass protest. The CNE also refused to initially begin counting the resulting signatures.
Yesterday, although the CNE approved the initial signature drive, it refused to announce a date for the next phase of the process to begin. Meanwhile, the Maduro government has launched 9,000 lawsuits over the initial signature collection, in a further attempt to sabotage the process.
Secretary of State John Kerry has admirably cautioned Maduro’s government “not to play a game of delay” over the referendum. But with the process now a race against time, the United States must translate this warning into action, mobilizing regional bodies such as the Organization of American States’ if necessary.
VALC has already launched an online petition for Americans to show their solidarity with Venezuelans’ demand for a recall referendum. VALC is also promoting the hashtag #ReferendumNow, alongside #CNERevocatorioYA and encouraging our supporters to contact their elected representatives to make their voices heard.
VALC's Executive Director Carlos Marquez commented: “Although the CNE has finally consented to moving the recall referendum process forward, Washington must not be deceived. Yesterday’s decision was not a sign of goodwill. The Maduro regime has no intention of allowing a referendum to take place and will do everything possible to disrupt it. As the leader of the free world, the United States must now galvanize the region to make clear to Maduro that the voice of the Venezuelan people must be heard.”