Venezuela’s electoral commission on Tuesday released documents that would allow opposition politicians to collect signatures and formally begin a process aimed at removing President Nicolás Maduro from office. The decision by the commission — which is controlled by Mr. Maduro’s Socialist government and previously resisted handing over the papers — lifted hopes of the opposition politicians, who control the National Assembly and have vowed to oust the president by the end of the year. It made Venezuela the second country in the region undergoing an effort to remove its leader. This month, Brazil’s lower house of Congress approved the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff over accusations that she misused state money.
On Tuesday, opposition politicians in Venezuela said they would forge ahead to collect signatures to get the recall effort underway. “Today, we are struggling for the future of the country and we will not rest,” said Tomás Guanipa, a congressman and leader of the opposition party Primero Justicia. “We will defeat all of the obstacles the government and electoral commission put in our way.”
Mr. Maduro has characterized the effort as a coup attempt. “They go around saying ‘Our hour has come,’” he said of his opponents on television Tuesday night. “Your hour will never come.”
To hold a recall vote, opposition activists must first collect the signatures of one percent of eligible voters. In a second stage, 20 percent of voters would have to agree to the recall for it to be held. Mr. Maduro’s opponents would then have to win the recall with more votes than he received in his initial election, just under 51 percent.