Protesters plan ‘Conquest of Caracas’
CARACAS, Venezuela — Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who are unhappy with the slow pace of a recall petition will demonstrate Thursday in the capital in what organizers hope will be a massive show of support for political change.
Arrests of several opposition figures have been reported as Maduro tries to discourage turnout for the event, which protest leaders have dubbed the “Conquest of Caracas.”
Even as Maduro has threatened crack down on marchers, organizers said they expected hundreds of thousands of people from across the country.
The protesters blame Maduro for triple-digit inflation, scarcity of basic food items and medicine, and rising violent crime. Maduro, who was elected to a six-year term in April 2013, has tried to portray his foes as coup proponents.
Jesus Torrealba, a director of the Unity Table coalition of anti-Maduro parties pushing the recall, said the march will be peaceful and remain far from the presidential palace.
Shortly after opposition parties took control of the National Assembly in January, leaders launched a presidential recall campaign that gathered 1.8 million signatures, which were submitted to the electoral commission in March.
But Maduro controls the commission, which has moved slowly.
Although it confirmed that enough signatures were collected to validate the process, the commission has set no timeline for the process. Opposition officials are concerned that the recall effort may be dismissed for not passing various milestones before certain deadlines.
The march is expected to be the biggest since February 2014, when nationwide protests turned violent and left 45 dead and hundreds injured.
Opposition supporters protest the slow pace of a recall measure Wednesday in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.