The Venezuela opposition is taking the next step in its recall referendum against President Nicholas Maduro.

The opposition claimed it has submitted nearly 2 million signatures, which are undergoing a verification process. Once verified, it will need 4 million signatures within a few days, or 20 percent of the electorate, in order to move forward to the referendum.

The opposition seeks to hold the referendum before January 10, 2017. If it can remove Maduro before the last two years of his term, Maduro will not be allowed to transfer power to Vice President Jorge Arreaza.

Meanwhile, the collapse in oil prices earlier this year had seriously impaired the ability of the government to import goods, though the recent raise in prices is easing the shortage of goods.

The introduction of a semi-floating exchange rate, which TRNN’s Gregory Wilpert calls “a major achievement of the government,” has helped lessen inflation and shortages.

“One of the causes of inflation and the shortages was the increasing gap between the official exchange rates and the black market exchange rates, which was giving people tremendous incentive to profit over that differential,” said Wilpert. “Although, I don’t think it’s enough, because the basic incentive of the black market is still there.”

Wilpert said the decision to implement the exchange rate came late because Maduro is stuck between those who want to solve the crisis by the nationalize the economy and others who believe the state should accommodate itself to the global market economy.

Gregory Wilpert

Gregory Wilpert is Managing Editor at TRNN. He is a German-American sociologist who earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1994. Between 2000 and 2008 he lived in Venezuela, where he first taught sociology at the Central University of Venezuela and then worked as a freelance journalist, writing on Venezuelan politics for a wide range of publications and also founded Venezuelanalysis.com, an English-langugage website about Venezuela. In 2007 he published the book, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (Verso Books). In 2014 he moved to Quito, Ecuador, to help launch teleSUR English. In early 2016 he began working for The Real News Network as host, researcher, and producer. Since September 2018 he has been working as Managing Editor at The Real News. Gregory's wife worked as a Venezuelan diplomat since 2008 and from January 2015 until October 2018 she was Venezuela's Ambassador to Ecuador.