The opposition should concentrate on activating Art. 344 of the Constitution for the referendum

August 22, 2007

Today, members of Primero Justicia went to the Electoral Board to request that the vote on the referendum to approve Constitutional change be a vote on each article of the reform, using Art. 344 of the current Constitution which says:

Artculo 344. El proyecto de reforma constitucional aprobado por la Asamblea Nacional se sometera a referendo dentro de los treinta dias siguientes a su sancion. El referendo se pronunciara en conjunto sobre la reforma, pero podra votarse separadamente hasta una tercera parte de ella, si asi lo aprobara un numero no menor de una tercera parte de la Asamblea Nacional o si en la iniciativa de reforma asi lo hubiere solicitado el Presidente o Presidenta de la Republica o un numero no menor del cinco por ciento de los electores inscritos o electoras inscritas en el registro civil y electoral.

or

Article 344. The project for Constitutional Reform approved by the National Assembly will be submitted to a referendum within thirty days of its approval. The referendum will pronounce itself over the reform, but up to a third of it could be voted separately, if it were approved by a number no less than one third of the National Assembly or if in the initiative of the reform it had been requested by the President or requested by a number of no less than five percent of registered votes.

(The one third above means that only up to one third of the article can be voted individually)

As cleverly noted by Virginia in the comments a few days ago, five percent is less than the number of dollars in the suitcase of the Maletagate, some 790,000 voters. This seems quite easy to achieve, those blacklisted by the Government already, like yours truly, could care less about being blacklisted a second time.

Since the Chavismo only cares about Chavez’s indefinite reelection in the proposed reform, they would fight this issue to death, proving their undemocratic colors. Thus, it is my opinion that the opposition should concentrate for now on this issue: Formally creating the petition required to obtain the signatures from the CNE and gathering the signatures. The CNE has to approve both what question is asked and how the signatures would be gathered, I would initiate this request now, even before the National Assembly had conducted its second and third approvals of the proposed reform. Since the proposal has 33 articles, I would just pick the two or three most important to the autocrat/Dictator and keep it very simple for the people to decide.

If this were to be done, Chavismo would panic. They know that 65% of the population opposes the indefinite reelection and they need the new Constitution approved fast so that Chavez can intervene the economy using the Enabling Bill before the middle of July of next year. Thus, this strategy puts them on the spot and God only knows what legal and undemocratic trick they will pull out of their sleeve to stop the possibility of an article by article vote.

Chavismo and the Constitutional coup have to be stopped, the only strategy at this time should be the steps required for gathering this petition.

Let Emperor Hugo show how naked he is!

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