Venex Curacao’s stand on ‘Toma de Caracas’
For several weeks, the ‘Mesa de la Unidad Democrática’ of Venezuela has been calling for an event called ‘Toma de Caracas’ or Taking Caracas. This event is nothing but a march to demand the ‘Consejo Nacional Electoral’ or CNE (Venezuelan electoral body), to respect the terms established in the regulations implemented by themselves in 2007, in order for the Recall Referendum (RR) against president Nicolás Maduro to be held this year.
To show support for this event, many cities around the world where there is significant presence of Venezuelan citizens have decided to join in on the protest in different ways.
Those of us who constitute the Venex Curaçao Foundation, as always, concerned to maintain the best relations between our citizens and the local community, of which we are part of, have chosen not to make any mobilization. However, we believe that the best solution for the Venezuelan conflict is the return to democratic normality. For this reason, we once again ask for the local leaders to accompany us with their voice – not in any particular political trend – as an appeal for the unconditional respect for democratic values and human rights in our country.
According to the current Venezuelan constitution, any official elected by popular vote – including the president – may be revoked from office after half the term has elapsed, by holding a Recall Referendum.
In practice, the RR is a constitutional exit door for lengthy Venezuelan presidential terms; usually consisting of six years without a set limit for reelection.
What is there to know about the Venezuelan Recall Referendum?
The Recall Referendum is a right Venezuelan citizens have that was established in the Constitution of 1999. Its promotion can neither be considered, in any respect, as an act of political destabilization, nor a favor granted to the people by their rulers.
A RR can be summoned by collecting particular amount of signatures of not less than 20 percent of the number of voters – this is the only requirement in the Constitution of 1999. If it is requested, and the option to revoke the president exceeds the number of votes obtained by the same at the time of his/her election, he/she must immediately cease his/her functions.
If the president leaves office before his/her fourth year in office, then new elections must called. Otherwise, according to article 233 of the ‘Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela’, the Vice President would be responsible for completing the period.
In what stage is the process of activating the Recall Referendum in Venezuela currently in?
In 2007, the CNE drafted a provisional regulation to control the referenda processes that included a list of additional requirements to hinder activation thereof. Among these new requirements are: the initial collection of 2500 signatures – which has already been surpassed; a second collection of one percent of voters – also surpassed – and its subsequent review by the electoral body.
It is important to note that each of the added steps in the regulation of 2007 has a time limit. Both for the organizers and for the electoral body.
However, while the proponents of the Recall Referendum have been forced to strictly comply with the time limits imposed, the CNE has consistently failed to meet lapses established by its own rules.
There is no doubt that the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) itself has been delaying the Recall Referendum, to guarantee the permanence in office of the ruling party until 2019.
What other steps need to be taken in order to activate the Presidential Recall Referendum?
Given that all the requirements noted above have already been fulfilled, the CNE must announce the date on which voters will be called to (finally) give their signatures for the activation of the referendum. The number of voters should be not less than 20 percent of the total – nearly four million signatures. Once this is done, then CNE would be forced to convoke the referendum act.
Can the Recall Referendum take place this year?
Any study of the phases and periods described in the regulations of 2007 reveals that the recall process can be performed in the month of November this year. Proof of this is, that at a press conference of the Rector Lucena nationally broadcast weeks ago, the CNE was given the task of undertaking a list of additional assignments – not covered by regulations – that, in her opinion, greatly hinders the realization of the event this year.
That detailed explanation by the highest electoral authority, makes it clear to the public that the regular phases of the regulation would allow the referendum to take place this year, but activities ‘unregulated’ could prevent this.
The lapses established in the regulations are authored by the CNE In them, the rules of the process for both parties are described. Respect for the established standards can neither be optional for the organizers, nor for the electoral body.
What exactly is ‘Toma de Caracas’ or Taking Caracas?
Given the evident intention of the Venezuelan electoral body to delay the recall referendum, the Venezuelan opposition has made a call to attend a demonstration on the first day of September in the city of Caracas. The aim of the march is simply to demand respect for the electoral law, which gives the citizens a right to decide, according to the current constitution, if they wish to follow Nicolás Maduro at the helm of the presidency or not.
Why is the situation in Venezuela of so much importance for the neighbouring countries?
The rapid deterioration of the living conditions of the Venezuelan people has recently come to levels of a humanitarian crisis. Compatriots leaving the country today have ceased to be traditional migrants to become survivors. This is important to understand, because people often tend to judge migrants without understanding that – in most cases – these are victims of governments that many outside Venezuela are sympathetic with.
Peaceful change in the political leadership of Venezuela would slow the exodus of Venezuelans outward. In fact, we are convinced that in the short term it could start a process of repatriation of many of the families who have been forced to leave their households due to the circumstances of the country.
It is for this reason that we insist that neighbouring countries should be the first to show interest for the unhindered continuation of the electoral output, and for the right of the Venezuelan people to decide on the continuation of the current government and its clearly wrong policies to be respected.
What are we asking for?
We ask the leaders of political parties and discourse of Curaçao to be very attentive to what happens in Venezuela, not only because the current government has been systematically violating international standards of human rights, but also because we are convinced that peaceful change in our country is the best solution to the migration problems of the region. We understand that in the international arena countries should mutually respect the internal affairs of other countries. However, just as we believe that the economy, education and family hygiene are private matters, but domestic violence requires the complaint to protect innocent victims. Likewise, respect for human rights and democratic values are not necessarily just the internal affairs of countries. As in the case of domestic violence or police brutality, to remain silent out of respect for self-determination, for neutrality, or for political expediency is complicity.
The situation in Venezuela must be resolved by the citizens of Venezuelan. No one in the government or in opposition, want any foreign government to solve our problems. However, we are convinced that without international pressure it is unlikely that current Venezuelan leaders respect the democratic game.
Democracy, like human rights, can not be an internal matter for each country. They are the common rules of the countries and are meant to protect all citizens alike.
The responsibility for monitoring compliance lies on everyone.
FUNDACIÉN VENEX CURAÉAO