Venezuela’s opposition officials called for a nationwide strike against President Nicolas Maduro to protest against his plan to rewrite the constitution, ratcheting up tensions after they held an unofficial vote rejecting his proposal.
The opposition also said the country’s National Assembly, which it controls, would name new members to the government-dominated Supreme Court, setting up a showdown with President Nicolas Maduro, whose party controls all but a few state institutions. Opposition parties also plan to sign a declaration calling for the formation of an alternative “government of national unity,” a step toward total rejection of government authority.
The 24-hour strike planned for Thursday, issued on Monday, was part of what the opposition called a “final offensive” aimed at forcing Maduro out through early elections, before his term ends in 2019.
“We are calling all the country to take part in a massive and violence-free protest through a nationwide civic strike for 24 hours,” said one leader in the opposition coalition, Freddy Guevara.
Earlier in the day, opposition parties had floated the idea of escalating more than three months of street protests, which have left at least 93 people dead and 1,500 wounded. More than 500 protesters and government opponents have been jailed.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference, opposition leader Freddy Guevara made little mention of more protests, a sign that the opposition had decided to change tactics in the wake of Sunday’s vote.
“We call on the whole country to launch a 24-hour national strike this Thursday, a massive, non-violent protest, as a way to pressure the government and to prepare for the final steps, which will be next week, to confront this fraud on the constitutional and to restore constitutional order,” he said. He didn’t say what the final steps would be.