Protesters plan ‘Con­quest of Cara­cas’

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD - By Mery Mo­gol­lon and Chris Kraul

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.

FED­ERICO PARRA/GETTY-AFP

Op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers protest the slow pace of a re­call mea­sure Wed­nes­day in Cara­cas, the Venezue­lan cap­i­tal.

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