Caracas, June 14, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The head of the presidential commission auditing Venezuela’s recall process, Jorge Rodriguez, petitioned the Supreme Court Monday for a protection order against the opposition following revelations of fraud in signature collection.
On Friday, the country’s electoral authority, the CNE, announced that 605,727 of the 1.85 million signatures collected by the opposition as part of the initial requirement to begin the recall referendum process were invalid due to a host of irregularities, including 10,995 deceased people as well as 9,333 fictitious individuals.
As part of the official request, the El Libertador mayor called on the high court to review the signatures in order to determine if the right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, had violated citizens’ political rights in the case of the invalid signatures.
“We have come to present this lawsuit in order to protect Venezuelans’ constitutional rights to ensure that no brutal fraud is perpetrated that would authorize [the MUD] to continue on to the next stage of the recall,” he stated.
Rodriguez also indicated the possibility of pressing criminal charges against the coalition over the collection of signatures from 3,003 minors and 1,335 felons as well as alleged “identity theft” in the case of the signatures belonging to deceased Venezuelans.
“In the face of these situations, all kinds of judicial action are on the table, including criminal proceedings,” he added.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the auditing commission, the next phase of the recall process could be postponed until an investigation is carried out, casting further doubt on the prospect of a referendum this year.
The MUD has convened fresh street demonstrations this Thursday to protest the invalidated signatures.
Capriles seeks support in Argentina and Paraguay
The lawsuit comes as Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles set off on an international tour to drum up support for the opposition among governments of the region.
On Monday, the former presidential candidate met with the newly elected right-wing president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, whom he urged to step-up pressure against Venezuela in international bodies such as UNASUR, the OAS, and MERCOSUR.
“We ask Argentina, like we ask the rest of the countries of Latin America, that they take a firm stand in international bodies in order to demand respect for the constitution,” he declared following his meeting with the Argentine leader.
Last month, the Venezuelan opposition denounced Macri as a “hypocrite” after his government helped torpedo efforts by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro to activate the body’s democratic charter against Venezuela.
Capriles’ visit sparked protests in the nation’s capital, with demonstrators gathering in the Plaza de Mayo, chanting “murderer” and “coup-plotter”.
The opposition leader also met with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, who came to power following the impeachment of former leftwing president Fernando Lugo in what was widely considered a constitutional coup.
The Cartes government has backed Venezuela’s expulsion from the OAS and has also spearheaded efforts to suspend the South American country from the regional trading bloc, MERCOSUR.
In the coming days, Capriles is set to hold a meeting with the interim president of Brazil, Michel Temer, who has promised a right-ward shift in the country’s foreign policy following the ouster of Dilma Rousseff