Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Venezuela's Impending Clash

I suggested that maybe the Venezuelan government would simply hold the referendum one day after the deadline to require a new election. Turns out that might literally be true.

National Elections Council President Tibisay Lucena said Tuesday that critics of the socialist administration will likely be authorized in late October to try to collect signatures from 20 percent of voters needed to force a recall. 
Elections officials would then have 90 days to confirm the signatures and schedule any vote. That means the vote might happen in January or February.

Naturally, the government is so very sorry about the delay.

Meanwhile, the opposition is calling for a protest on September 1. All the frustrations will come out, from the empty shelves to the refusal to hold a referendum in a timely manner, and the increasingly militarized government will have to deal with it. It will be a miracle if it remains peaceful.

This is really a problem as the police face protestors. As David Smilde noted, Nicolás Maduro is surrounding himself with military officers:

The logic of cultivating a loyal core among security officials extends beyond those who are on some sort of US blacklist. The recent designation of Defense Minister Gen. Vladimir Padrino López as the head of the “Grand Supply Mission” that will take control of Venezuela’s entire food supply system, effectively makes him and the military direct stake holders in the government’s weakest flank: food scarcities. If there is mass social unrest because of shortages, it will not be aimed at a government who then needs to hope the military defends it, it will be aimed at the military itself.

Protests like these, then, may be seen as existential threats. Military officers now control both the police (through the Minister of the Interior) and food distribution.


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