Venezuela, a country with the world’s largest oil reserves, is mired in a crippling economic and political crisis.
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters are demanding fresh elections.
They want President Nicolas Maduro out of office.
People are suffering food shortages, there is little medicine and long queues mark every purchase.
Inflation is on the rise and the country is in a third year of recession. The black market is flourishing.
VENEZUELA – Protest of Employers of public transportation due to shortage in Venezuela of spare parts for their vehicles. By
jbarreto1974</a> <a href="https://t.co/10gq9qhGRn">pic.twitter.com/10gq9qhGRn</a></p>— Frédérique Geffard (fgeffardAFP) September 22, 2016
According to opposition leaders, years of Hugo Chavez wrecked the country’s economy. In order to remove his unpopular successor Nicolas Maduro.
Opponents have collected almost 2 million signatures for a petition, the first step to launch a recall referendum to oust the government.
Maria de Guevara opposes the government:“We want the recall, it is a duty and the constitution says that we can have the recall so that this regime goes.”
The goalposts have been moved and Venezuela’s national election board has imposed an impossible timetable.
Maduro’s opponents need to gather the signatures of 20 percent of the electorate in each state in 72 hours for the referendum to take place.
Such rules were not applied in the 2004 referendum against Hugo Chávez.
Luis Emilio Rondon is from the National Electoral Council:“The rule of 20 percent for each state of the country was not imposed in 2004, so I do not understand the legal thinking behind the decision taken by the directors of the agency.”
The opposition suggests the government is employing delaying tactics. Under the constitution, the recall referendum must take place within four years of the sitting presidents term to ensure a full election, which comes to an end in January. If a president is recalled in the last two years of his term, the vice-president takes over.
A scenario the opposition rejects as it leaves Maduro’s administration at the helm.