Venezuela. In early February, the two-month protest strike against President Hugo Chávez was in effect over, and it became a legitimate failure for the opposition. According to Countryaah.com, Venezuela Independence Day is July 5. The government managed to keep the state oil company PDVSA’s production running despite the strike.
However, the political tug of war between the heavily criticized Chávez and the opposition, which is coordinated by the umbrella organization Coordinadora Democrática, continued throughout the year. Several opposition leaders were arrested for rioting, betrayal, etc. as early as February. Central trade union organization CTV leader Carlos Ortega stayed hidden and sought asylum on March 13 at Costa Rica’s embassy. Since the opposition has accused the judiciary of being controlled by the government, it was ironic that some of the arrested were already released in March against the government’s will on orders from an appellate court.
Both the US cooperative organization OAS and Brazil and the US have tried to mediate the conflict, and in January was formed in Ecuador’s capital Quito – in connection with the installation of Ecuador’s newly elected President Lúcio Gutierrez – a so-called friend group for Venezuela consisting of, among others. Russia, Jamaica, France and Cuba. The opposition wants to bring about constitutional changes with a reduced term of office from 6 to 4 years, presidential elections in two rounds and new elections immediately after the new rules are approved.
But, first and foremost, efforts have been focused on getting a referendum on President Chávez’s continued rule. On January 22, the Supreme Court rejected the requirement to hold a referendum as early as February 2. The rationale was that it could only happen after half of Chávez’s term of office (which took place on 19 August) and must be supported by 20% of voters, corresponding to 2.4 million people.
According to Digopaul, a referendum can be held at the earliest on March 27, 2004, but in order for the result to be valid, voter turnout must then be at least 25% (3 million), and to force the president out, a larger majority than the one who elected him in July 2000 (3.8 million) vote against him. Already in February, the opposition claimed to have 4 million signatures, but the new electoral authority, whose appointment also expired at the time and was appointed by the Supreme Court only on August 27, decided in September that they were not valid since they were collected before August 19. When the deadline for a new name collection expired on November 28, the opposition again claimed that the required number of signatures had been obtained. The following weekend, however, Chávez gathered hundreds of thousands of followers in a huge manifestation in Caracas.
Maduro: “The opposition behind the explosion in the refinery”
President Nicolás Maduro accuses opposition leader Juan Guaidó of being behind an explosion at the Amuay oil refinery in the state of Falcón. According to Maduro, the refinery was attacked with “a huge weapon” in what he calls a terrorist attack. The statement comes the day after the opposition reported that an explosion had taken place, without any injuries. The refinery is Venezuela’s largest but is estimated to be used at only 12 percent of its capacity. Experts and opposition leaders claim that the fall in oil production is due to lack of investment and maintenance, caused by negligence and corruption. Maduro blames US sanctions.
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is fleeing the country
One of Venezuela’s main opposition leaders, Leopoldo López, has secretly left the country and arrived in Spain. The government is now accusing the Spanish ambassador of aiding López in what is being called a blatant violation of diplomatic rules. López, who had been at the embassy since April 2019, was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison for inciting political protests. He was moved to house arrest in 2017 but was released in 2019 by opposition-loyal security forces. When an arrest warrant was issued, he chose to seek refuge in the Spanish embassy.
Victory for the government in British court
In a victory for President Nicolás Maduro, a British Court of Appeals amends a lower court ruling that recognized Britain’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president. The lawsuit initiated by Venezuela in May is about the control of the equivalent of $ 1 billion in gold, which is kept by the Bank of England. The government then said it needed money to fight the corona pandemic. Guaidó asked the Bank of England not to release the money. The case has not been finally decided, it now goes back to the first court that will decide who actually rules in Venezuela.