Venezuela’s CNE Rejects US “Concerns” over Impartiality of Recall Referendum

Venezuela's electoral authority urged the US to “abstain from expressing opinions” about Venezuelan democracy Friday after the latter criticized the body’s decision to hold a recall referendum next year.

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Venezuela's National Electoral Council. (Archive)
Venezuela's National Electoral Council. (Archive)
By Lucas Koerner
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Caracas, September 26, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) urged the US government to “abstain from expressing opinions” about Venezuelan democracy Friday after the latter criticized the body’s decision to hold a much anticipated presidential recall referendum next year.

“The United States is troubled by yesterday’s announcement by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council that its recall referendum process might not be completed until 2017,” opined US State Department Spokesman John Kirby in an official statement released Thursday. 

The statement followed an announcement by the CNE Wednesday that a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro will not be held until “halfway through the first quarter of 2017”. Under Venezuela’s constitution, a recall referendum that is held after January 10, 2017 cannot trigger new presidential elections, with the vice-president taking over for the remainder of the presidential term. 

The CNE, for its part, accused the State Department of willfully ignoring the body’s internal statutes that govern the recall process with the “interventionist intention to affect democratic political processes in Venezuela”. 

“They do not know the Venezuelan legal system nor do they bother to include in their political statements any reference to it, and they deliberately conceal the diverse facts and regulations associated with the decisions of the CNE,” the statement reads. 

“They only act on the basis of arrogance, motivated by the interest of harming Venezuelan democracy, they attempt to impose a political obligation by way of threat and coercion,” the CNE continued. 

Both the Maduro government and the opposition hold each other responsible for delaying the recall referendum. On September 15, the CNE delayed a key announcement regarding the recall roadmap, citing concerns over possible violence from an opposition march scheduled that very day. 

The US statement comes at a moment of heightened tensions between Caracas and Washington. 

Last week, Venezuela’s Defense Ministry accused the United States of spying after a US Coast Guard aircraft was detected in Venezuelan airspace on September 16. 

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez slammed the US government during her speech at the 71st UN General Assembly in New York this past Friday. 

“The United States is the biggest exporter of violence in the world,” Rodriguez told world leaders.

“The United States has about 800 military bases across the world. Capitalism is the biggest obstacle for peoples to develop. It's a lethal formula against peace,” she added.