VENEZUELA’S right-wing opposition launched a 48-hour “civic strike” yesterday, calling on workers to stay at home in its latest campaign to derail plans to convene a new constituent assembly.
President Nicolas Maduro has confirmed that Sunday’s elections will go ahead to choose the members of the assembly, despite the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition’s three-month campaign of rioting which has led to hundreds of deaths.
The CTV union federation, which supported the 2002 coup against late president Hugo Chavez, said its 333,000 members would join the strike.
On Tuesday, Mr Maduro said Venezuela would “choose between peace and war, between the future or the past and between independence or colonialism.” He has said that the new constituent assembly will promote peace and reconciliation.
Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada has demanded answers from the US over “systematic” efforts to overthrow its elected government. He said there was a “campaign of intelligence operations at the highest level to overthrow the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro.”
The Foreign Ministry accused Washington of providing “finance and logistical support to the Venezuelan opposition as an integral part of its destabilising efforts against democracy.”
It also condemned former president Barack Obama for extending his 2015 decree designating Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to US national security” before leaving office in January.
It also attacked Mr Obama’s successor Donald Trump for additional sanctions imposed since he took office.
Two more of the 33 Supreme court judges appointed by the Mud-controlled national assembly, now claiming authority as a rival government, were arrested on Tuesday.
Meanwhile far-right Popular Will party leader Leopoldo Lopez issued his first public statement since his release from jail, urging the armed forces not to provide security for Sunday’s election.
He said: “I ask you not to be accomplices in the annihilation of the republic.”
Mr Lopez was sentenced to almost 14 years in jail in 2015 for inciting the last round of regime change violence in 2014 that left 43 dead.
He was released from prison to house arrest on July 8 following low-key talks with the government.
Cuban Communist Party second secretary Jose Ramon Machado denied claims Havana would mediate between the government and opposition.
He said it was up to the Venezuelan people and government to overcome their challenges “without foreign meddling in their internal affairs.
“Those who from the outside try to give lessons on democracy and human rights while encouraging coup-mongering violence and terrorism should take their hands off that nation.”