Venezuela strike tests beleaguered president
A 24-HOUR nationwide strike in Venezuela yesterday was set set to increase pressure on beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro, whose policies have put him on a collision course with the United States.
The opposition called the stoppage after holding an unofficial plebiscite last weekend in which a third of Venezuela’s voters cast ballots rejecting Maduro and his policies.
Chief among them is the president’s plan to hold an election July 30 to choose a 545-member citizens’ body, called a Constituent Assembly, to rewrite the constitution.
US President Donald Trump has threatened “swift economic actions” against Venezuela if that election happens.
The European Union, the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Catholic Church have all condemned Maduro’s plan.
But Maduro has vowed to forge on “now more than ever” after Trump’s threat, and to punish “conspirators” who try to stop him.
His labour minister, Nestor Ovalles, warned that companies in Venezuela that joined the strike would be “sanctioned.”
And the military reaffirmed its loyalty to Maduro by saying it would protect the polling.
The opposition, which controls the national assembly, sees the strike as the launch of a “final offensive” including civil disobedience and further protests designed to force Maduro out of office through early elections.
With efforts at negotiations between both sides also exhausted, the stalemate risks worsening the deteriorating situation ordinary Venezuelans are enduring. – AFP