Venezuela strike tests be­lea­guered pres­i­dent

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - International Business -

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

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