Until Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) decided to stop the presidential referendum last year, the opposition coalition had just one goal in mind: to surpass the 7,505,338 votes that made Nicolas Maduro officially Hugo Chavez’s successor as head of state. .
Almost eight months later, they now know for sure that they can get that kind of support — in even tougher conditions.
In an unofficial, opposition-organized referendum, about 7.2 million people voted against Maduro’s plan to change the constitution, demanding immediate general elections to renew all branches of government.
“We are saying enough is enough: leave this country alone,” said Mirlena Hernandez, a 27-year-old working woman who decided to vote against Maduro and his regime in La Florida, an eastern sector of Caracas.
“I can’t find diapers or milk in the stores for my baby, despite the fact I work all day long. We want a better future.”
She was among those who cast their votes in a plebiscite with no campaign period, no military security or state funding, and with only 35 per cent of the polling stations that the CNE used in the 2013 presidential elections.
But as Hernandez was getting in line to vote east of Caracas, tragedy once again showed its face in the streets of western Venezuela.
Moments after thousands of people chanted “assassins, assassins” at several National Guard soldiers who were passing in front of the El Carmen church in Catia, unknown armed civilians attacked the voting centre located right beside the temple, killing Xiomara Scott, a 61-year-old nurse who was waiting to vote against Maduro’s government.