Like Hercules attempting to slay the the Hydra, Venezuela’s opposition is finding that for every head cut off the Chavismo power apparatus, several more take its place. Reuters has the story:
Venezuela’s national election board on Wednesday dashed opposition hopes of holding a referendum this year to remove unpopular socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
If the opposition next month successfully collects 20 percent of total voter signatures requesting the plebiscite, then it “could take place halfway through the first quarter of 2017,” the board said in a statement. […]
Conditions around the next phase toward a referendum, the collection of 20 percent of voter signatures or about 3.9 million in total from Oct. 26 to 28, also appeared designed to stymie the opposition.
Opposition members had wanted the 20 percent threshold to be at the national level and 19,500 vote machines to be placed around the country to maximize Maduro foes’ ability to register signatures.
But the board approved only 5,392 machines and said the threshold had to be met in each state.
This development could be a serious blow to the opposition. With a festering economic crisis crippling the country, “hoarders” being sent to Food Gulags for squirreling away scarce goods, and images of President Nicolas Maduro being chased through the streets by citizens banging pots and pans ending up a runaway social media sensation, opposition leaders could be forgiven for raising their hopes that the next step was within reach. Their frustration is palpable
Opposition leaders met yesterday to debate next steps, with observers worried that hardliners might force divisions to the surface. Opposition leader Henriqe Capriles said that he would not comment further until Monday, while hardliner Maria Corina Machado called for “civil disobedience”.
We’ll be watching.