From the editors of Veneconomy:
Chávez is keeping himself busy and his agenda full organizing the (un)constitutional amendment that will firmly enthrone him at Miraflores for life, so emulating his mentor from a nearby Caribbean island, the long-lived dictator Fidel Castro.
His goal is to hold the referendum, come hell or high water, on February 27, for him an emblematic date.
It is already known that this amendment to the Constitution is unconstitutional. That said, it must be remembered that the President is the first to violate the Constitution that he himself proposed and that he falsely claims to defend. So there is no reason to doubt that, as on previous occasions, the capons that Chávez maintains in the branches of government will once again ignore what the Constitution says and will interpret it to feed the presidential ego.
According to statements made to the press, the president of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice already takes the legality of the amendment for granted.
In the National Assembly – the route Chávez dictated should be used to formulate the amendment proposal, – they are ready to raise their hands in favor of whatever the commander orders. As for the PSUV, it has already started the farce of collecting signatures to try to give an appearance of legitimacy to this illegal amendment proposal.
Then there’s the National Electoral Council, which will have to rush and trip over itself, ignoring laws, rules, and procedures, in order to hold the referendum on February 27.
Among the most relevant rules that the CNE will have to violate are those referring to the electoral roll. The Suffrage Law establishes that, once the referendum has been called, the electoral roll should be opened for at least 15 days to include the new voters who reached voting age after September 24, 2008, (the last time the electoral roll was closed) and the date of the referendum, and also to remove from it voters who died after that date.
So, the CNE will need about 15 days to process the information, allocate a polling station to each new voter, and process requests for changes filed by voters who are already registered.
After that, it has to send copies of the duly updated electoral roll to the political parties for their analysis and comments and post the pertinent information on its webpage so that each voter can consult it, and then correct any errors that there might be. This takes another 15 days.
Only then will it be able to issue the final electoral roll for the referendum, which, by law, should be approved by the CNE, and draw up the final schedule of polling stations 30 days before the referendum.
In other words, adding up all these steps, the entire procedure for preparing the electoral roll would take at least 75 days. It should be remembered that, for the referendum on the Constitution held in 2007, this process took three full months.
That means, if things are done in accordance with the law, it would not be possible to hold the referendum on the reelection amendment until mid-April.
Everything indicates that Chávez, his TSJ, his National Assembly, and his CNE will find a way to hold the referendum on February 27. That being so, not only would the referendum be unconstitutional but it would also disregard legally established timeframes, which would violate the rights of thousands of citizens to exercise their right to vote.
Veneconomy has been Venezuela's leading publisher of economic, political and financial information since 1982.