In August of 2004, a presidential recall referendum was held in Venezuela which former President Hugo Chavez won by almost 20 percentage points. The process to get that referendum approved took over 8 months as Reuters noted in this article in which it discretely refuted a lie told by opposition leader Henrique Capriles:
“The government is trying to sow the idea there isn’t time,” Capriles said. “That is false … Twelve years ago, they organized a recall referendum in four months,” he added, referring to Chavez’s August 2004 referendum victory.
The opposition’s signature drive actually began in the second half of 2003 for that poll, which Chavez won with 58 percent in one of numerous vote wins during his 1999-2013 rule.
In fact, the recall referendum of 2004 was held just days before a deadline to trigger new presidential elections if Chavez had lost. If the referendum had been held after that deadline then Chavez would merely have been replaced by his VP for the remainder of the term if he had he lost the referendum.
That crucial deadline to trigger new elections was missed by the recall process that the opposition initiated in 2016. Capriles and others in the opposition have lied about the length of the 2004 process to evade all responsibility for having missed it – specifically for delaying for over 3 months before initiating the process in in 2016. I went into the details here.
It is also very important to note that because of the lengthy and time consuming recall referendum process in 2004, local elections ended up being delayed for 8 months. Instead of being held in December of 2004, when the terms of local officials officially ended, they were held in August of 2005.
Something similar has now happened with regional elections. They have been pushed from December of 2016 to mid-2017 according to the CNE, Venezuela’s electoral authorities. The opposition – and their devoted champion OAS chief Luis Almagro – have claimed their right to vote has been stolen because the recall referendum wasn’t held in 2016 and because regional elections have been delayed. Neither claim stands up when you honestly review the history of the 2004 referendum process. Yet these are two of the key claims Almagro has used to claim that Venezuela is a dictatorship.