When President Obama declared Venezuela a “national security threat” and smacked the country with sanctions last month, an overheated response from the South American nation’s highly combustible government was inevitable.
And so, President Nicolas Maduro is drumming up a petition, to be signed by Venezuelans opposed to the measure, to hand Obama in person at the Summit of the Americas in Panama April 10-11.
That all sounds fair enough, until you realize Maduro has set himself the improbable target of getting 10 million signatures — equivalent to one in three Venezuelans, including kids — in less than a month.
Even for a spectacularly popular leader, that would have been a tall order. But for Maduro, with an approval rating of just 22% and his country is staring into an economic abyss, it could be impossible.
Yet the man handpicked by the late Hugo Chavez to continue his “Bolivarian” socialist revolution claimed to already have 6.2 million signatures, El Universal news site reported Wednesday.
How is he doing it?
Well, he began last week by ordering all Venezuelan schools to hold an “anti-imperialist day” against “U.S. meddling” in the oil-rich but bitterly divided nation’s internal affairs.
Activities would include — you guessed it — the “collection of the signatures of the students, and teaching, administrative, maintenance and cooking personnel.”
Maduro’s next step, according to the opposition and human rights groups, was to order state workers to join in, or be sacked.
One case picked up in the local press was of a supervisor at Carbonorca, a state-owned manufacturer of electronics parts. Within hours of objecting to the collection of signatures at work, he reportedly was fired without explanation.
SOURCE: Simeon Tegel