Machado Refuses Removal from Office, Two Early Elections for Mayor in Venezuela

Far right opposition leader Maria Corina Machado has refused to accept her removal as a national assembly legislator, and two mayoral positions will be up for re-election after the opposition mayors were sentenced for their support for violent barricades.

By Tamara Pearson

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Maria Corina Machada in Plaza Brion yesterday (Prensa Maria Corina Machado)
Maria Corina Machada in Plaza Brion yesterday (Prensa Maria Corina Machado)
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Merida, 27th March 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Far right opposition leader Maria Corina Machado has refused to accept her removal as a national assembly legislator, and two mayoral positions will be up for re-election after the opposition mayors were sentenced for their support for violent barricades.

Maria Corina Machado

Machado arrived in Caracas from Lima yesterday, accompanied by three rightwing Peruvian parliamentarians; Martin Belaunde, Cecilia Chacon, and Luis Galarreta.

She called for a rally to welcome her back, and to “show the regime who decides who are its legislators”. Around 1,500 people showed up. She also denied that she was no longer a National Assembly legislator, saying, “I’ve never been more of a deputy than today”.

In a statement she released on Tuesday, she incorrectly claimed that “the constitution establishes that the mandate of a legislator in the National Assembly... can only be ended through four situations... death... resignation....recall referendum... [and] court... none of these conditions relate to my case”.

On Monday the president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, announced that Machado would no longer be a legislator. He cited articles 149 and 191 of the constitution, which stipulate that public officials may not accept employment, special honours, or reimbursement from foreign governments without the authorisation of parliament. The previous Friday, Machado had been named Panama’s alternate Ambassador to the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Cabello argued that by accepting the post and then making declarations as a representative of the Panamanian government, Machado had forfeited her position as assembly member.

In Peru on Monday Machado participated in a seminar conducted by writer Mario Vargas Llosa, and on Tuesday she met with a group of parliamentarians.  In the meeting she said she hoped to see “clearer and more solid signs that the Peruvian government is on the side of Venezuelans and not with a dictatorial regime”.

Early Mayoral Elections

Two opposition-held mayoral positions are up for electoral contention after the mayors were removed from office and sentenced for supporting violent barricades in their jurisdictions.

Daniel Ceballos, the former mayor of San Cristobal in Tachira state, was arrested last week following a warrant produced by a San Cristobal court.  He had not complied with a Supreme Court Order to remove street barricades in his jurisdiction and was also arrested on charges of rebellion and criminal conspiracy.

Earlier this week the High Court sentenced Ceballos to twelve months and 15 days prison, meaning he is now legally in absolute absence of his position.

Enzo Scarano, mayor of San Diego, Carabobo state, was similarly jailed for ten and a half months last Wednesday.

National Electoral Council (CNE) vice president Sandra Oblitas said the CNE had convoked its electoral technicians in order to put together a timeline for new elections.

“We already have candidates [for the two mayoralties], and we’re going to register them the first day that the CNE calls for them, we’re going to seek votes in these two municipalities where we have never won before ... because this time we’re going to win in order to guarantee peace,” President Nicolas Maduro said yesterday.

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