By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS - Opposition members went Tuesday before Venezuela's electoral board, the CNE, for the fourth time, to ask that a recall referendum process against President Nicolas Maduro be initiated.
Jesús Torrealba, head of the Opposition's united political party MUD, along with several deputies delivered the document to the CNE. The opposition points out that the new document, according to the CNE new instructions, is the proper requirement to request the form that will allow the collection of signatures to activate the process towards the recall referendum.
“The heads of the CNE have created a series of absurd obstacles so that the people can’t express themselves through their vote. They asked us to collect signatures, in order to collect signatures, so that we can collect signatures. And here we’ve brought them, here they are. They’ve been delivered, so the excuses are over," said Torrealba.
“The recall process has started. The opposition has forced the CNE to engage them. Even if they are dragging their feet,” political analyst Luis Salamanca told LAHT. “Obstacles? Sure, there will be obstacles like in those Indiana Jones movies where Harrison Ford is trying to leave the Temple of Doom. But the CNE and the opposition are already talking, and that is the main point."
A little clash was to be expected, said opposition lawmaker Tomas Guanipa.
"A small group of Maduristas tried to stop us” but the letter petitioning the CNE for the recall was delivered, for the fourth time, with the Opposition pointing out that all of the prerequisites the CNE asked for -- which some on the opposition say are illegal -- are included.
“Yes, the Maduro regime and the Supreme Court and the CNE they are all ganging up, trying to slow this down. But come on! It was to be expected!” Salamanca said.
Julio Borges, opposition lawmaker, tweeted that Venezuela “expects an answer by Thursday” on whether the recall can begin and when, after the expected CNE meeting.
The main danger will come, analysts have said, during the three day period to collect some 4 million signatures in order to activate the recall.
“That lapse, it has to be observed very carefully by the opposition. And I am sure the government will try something,” said Salamanca.
The Opposition needs at least four million signatures according to the Venezuelan constitution, which says 20% of the total of registered voters (some 19 million Venezuelans, according to the CNE) need to sign a petition before a presidential recall is activated.
However, there is hope for the opposition: soaring violent crime and scarcity of everything from food to running water and electricity have made it virtually impossible for Maduro to win any popular vote held this year, according to analyst Luis Vicente Leon.
In the 2015 legislative elections, the CNE allowed a pro-government party to place a ballot next to that of the opposition that mimicked its colors and name. Still, the opposition carried the National Assembly with a 2 million vote advantage and attained the first super majority in the history of Venezuela.
It is now becoming common to see the opposition -- no longer confined to its more richer areas in east Caracas haunts -- hold a show of force deep into what ubiquitous graffiti term “territorio chavista”, a territory supposedly held by supporters of the late Hugo Chavez and his protégé Maduro.
The CNE is located in downtown Caracas, a high crime area where the presence of “colectivos”, pro-Maduro biker gangs, is strong.
The recall fight is not only fought on the streets: the official Twitter account of the National Assembly began distributing an electronic format to register in favor of the recall on Tuesday morning. The account has only 225,000 followers but the opposition obtained almost 8 million votes on December 6th.