Venezuelan opposition calls for strike
Venezuelan opposition leaders called for a 24-hour nationwide strike to increase pressure on the socialist government after more than 7 million people rejected a plan to rewrite the constitution and consolidate the ruling party’s power over the country, which has been stricken by shortages and inflation and riven by more than 100 days of clashes between protesters and police.
The opposition also said Monday the country’s National Assembly, which it controls, would name new members to the government-dominated Supreme Court, setting up a showdown with President Nicolas Maduro, whose party controls all but a few state institutions. Opposition parties also plan to sign a declaration calling for the formation of an alternative “government of national unity,” a step toward total rejection of government authority.
“Overall the package is pretty radical, especially the idea of a parallel government,” said David Smilde, a Tulane University expert on Venezuela. “I think it could lead to real chaos within the government.”
He noted, however, that the opposition moves were to be implemented in phases over the next week, starting with the nationwide strike on Thursday, giving both sides the opportunity to negotiate possible concessions.
Earlier in the day, opposition parties had floated the idea of escalating more than three months of street protests, which have left at least 93 people dead and 1,500 wounded. More than 500 protesters and government opponents have been jailed.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference, opposition leader Freddy Guevara made little mention of more protests, a sign that the opposition had decided to change tactics in the wake of Sunday’s vote.
“We call on the whole country to launch a 24-hour national strike this Thursday, a massive, non-violent protest, as a way to pressure the government and to prepare for the final steps, which will be next week, to confront this fraud on the constitutional and to restore constitutional order,” he said.