Turning now to Venezuela, the opposition to President Nicolás Maduro has gained enough signatures this week to begin the process of a presidential recall referendum. But speaking yesterday on his weekly television program, Maduro appeared to preempt the idea that any recall would occur this year.
President Nicolás Maduro: “I will say it: If the opposition legally obtains the signatures, we will go to elections next year, and I am sure that the Venezuelan people will hand us a victory for the country, a victory of peace. I am sure that next year, in February, March or April, we will win that referendum. I am sure because I believe in the love of the people, I believe in history, and I am not here because I came down in a parachute. I am here because I must complete a mission, a mission that was given to me, one I will fulfill for many years, for a long time.”
If a referendum takes place before the end of the year, a new presidential election would be held. If the referendum occurs after the end of the year, Maduro could be forced to step down, but his vice president would finish his term, which ends in 2018. Maduro’s government is under increasing pressure from the opposition as Venezuela faces economic turmoil that has led to hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods.