The Venezuelan opposition is performing a popular consultation to demonstrate how the people reject Maduro’s illegal National Constituent Assembly (NCA). The NCA is unconstitutional because Maduro skipped one of the crucial steps that allow its implementation: Consulting the people through a referendum.

The popular consultation, originally called a plebiscite, will take place today in 2,030 different voting centers. 667 of them are located abroad, in 602 cities and 100 different countries.

The referendum taking place on Saudi Arabia, on Saturday 11 a.m. Venezuelan local time. Image Credit: Freddy Guevara / @FreddyGuevaraC
The referendum taking place in Saudi Arabia, on Saturday 11 a.m. Venezuelan local time. Image Credit: Freddy Guevara / @FreddyGuevaraC

To validate the process, several ex-presidents arrived in Venezuela on Saturday, including Andres Pastrana from Colombia, Jorge Quiroga from Bolivia, Vicente Fox from Mexico, and Laura Chinchilla and Miguel Angel Rodriguez from Costa Rica.

If the government doesn’t organize elections, the people will

The popular referendum consists of three “yes or no” questions:

1. DO YOU REJECT AND DISAVOW the National Constituent Assembly proposed by Maduro without asking for the approval of the Venezuelan people?

2. DO YOU DEMAND to the military and to every civil servant to obey and defend the Constitution of the year 1999 and back up the decisions of the National Assembly?

3. DO YOU APPROVE that the Public Powers are renewed according to what’s expressed in the Constitution, and that free, transparent elections take place to form a National Unitary Government to re-establish the constitutional order?

Those wishing to participate must be older than 18 years and head down to a sovereign point, which are different from the usual voting centers held by the Maduro-controlled National Electoral Council. The voter must provide its valid I.D. or passport to one of the assistants; then it must sign the voting ticket and deposit it in one of the ballots. An assistant will return the I.D. to the voter and ask for its signature and fingerprint in a book.

"I look like Saddam Hussein," stated Maduro on July 15. Image Credit: Infobae
“I look like Saddam Hussein,” stated Maduro on July 15. Image Credit: Infobae

According to opposition leaders, the voting centers will destroy the signature books to ensure that no one can blackmail the voters. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also called for the government to ensure the safety of the electorate during the process and to stop using military justice to prosecute civilians.

Organizers are asking voters to keep spreading the voice and help drive people towards the voting centers. They’ve set up websites, Twitter accounts and news networks to cover reports and share images about the process. On Saturday, the process had already begun in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, just some of the countries that Venezuelans chose as either their new homes or places of exile.

Today is a historic day for Venezuela, having the people organize themselves to carry out an electoral process to enforce its sovereignty and fend off Maduro’s efforts to dissolve the republic and install a communist state.

If it passes, Maduro’s National Constituent Assembly will do just that, dissolve the Venezuelan state and reconfigure the form of government, becoming controlled by the socialist party and its inner circles.

The results of the referendum should become public in the early night, as the process should take from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

108 days of protests, over 4,000 detained, more than 1 dead per day

Hopefully, Venezuela is stepping into the final stretch of protests to oust the Maduro regime. The repression has not ceased and is fiercer than ever, with 115 deaths up to July 12, and in 88 percent of the cases, there is no investigation taking place to find the culprit. Many of the deceased are due to point-blank shots of tear gas cans, but some of them are due to firearms, ending up shot by either military officials or paramilitary thugs.

These paramilitary groups are the infamous “colectivos,” and they are the regime’s premier shock troops, impervious to law enforcement and armed by the government under the precept of a so-called “civil-military union,” which is not expressed anywhere in the Constitution.

The colectivos get their hands dirty when the National Guard cannot deal with protesters, but that doesn’t mean that the Guard is peaceful by any means.

Videos, photographs, and testimonies galore illustrating the National Guard’s terrorizing tactics, shooting tear gas grenades into primary schools, residential buildings, and even shopping malls, suffocating children and elder adults who could be hardly classified as protesters. On the other hand, the government decorates military officials who remain loyal to Maduro’s authoritarian agenda.

In a strange turn of events, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was put on domiciliary arrest after being three years in a military prison and resisting torture and isolation. There is still much uncertainty about why Lopez, who directed the 2014 protests that also tried to oust Maduro, was sent to his house.

Some claim that it was a play to destabilize the opposition while others assure that it was a direct order from Putin to bargain with Donald Trump, mainly because if Maduro’s NCA where to pass, Venezuela would be on its way to become the North Korea of South America.