Venezuela's oppn stages two-day anti-Maduro shutdown

AFP  Getty Images     
       Opposition demonstrators protest against President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas earlier this month

Clashes broke out in Venezuela today, on the first day of a two-day strike.

"Highways were mostly empty and businesses shuttered across the country as millions of people observed the 48-hour strike and activists threw up roadblocks in many neighborhoods to keep others from getting to work", The Associated Press reports.

Adversaries say the ruling Socialist Party wants to consolidate dictatorship with a sham vote for the super-congress that will have the power to rewrite the constitution and shut down the existing opposition-led legislature.

Their goal: For Maduro to abandon his plans for a new constitution, opposition leaders said at a news conference.

The EU, UN and heavyweight nations in the Organization of American States have all also urged Maduro to drop his controversial plan.

The Trump administration hit Venezuela with new sanctions Wednesday targeting 13 current or former top officials in President Nicolas Maduro's government, and threatened more penalties if he goes through with efforts to rewrite the beleaguered country's constitution. At least four people were killed in last week's general.

"And it will do so in 2017, 2018, and 2019", he assured, adding that Venezuela's economic well-being is not exclusively dependent on Washington. The government in Brasília has floated the idea of hosting peace talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition under the auspices of regional trade bloc Mercosur, of which it holds the rotating presidency.

USA officials warned that tougher measures could be coming, Reuters reports: "The most serious option is financial sanctions that would halt dollar payments for the country's oil or a total ban on oil imports to the United States, a top cash-paying client".

It would be a significant blow to the National Assembly, the only body that represents the people trapped in Maduro's nightmare of a government.


Many streets around Venezuela remained barricaded and deserted during the second day of an opposition-led shutdown.

Meanwhile, Telesur, a television network sponsored by several Latin American governments including Venezuela, reported that thousands of Maduro supporters rallied across the country on Wednesday in support of the election. Maduro in three years.

The electoral campaign for members of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly is set to end Thursday with a large event underway in the capital city of Caracas.

The opposition has planned another major demonstration in Caracas on Friday.

He also called the sanctions "illegal, insolent and unprecedented". This is the moment when the Venezuelan people need the strong support of the worldwide community to save their country from the mess into which their incompetent government dragged them kicking and screaming.

"The government has to stop its plan for a constituent assembly", Venezuela's Union leader Aldo Torres said. The assembly could dramatically reshape government and help Maduro further consolidate his power.

"We need to paralyze the whole country", said Flor Lanz, 68, standing with a group of women blocking the entrance to a freeway in upscale east Caracas with rope and iron sheets.

The fresh sanctions were meant to dissuade Maduro from holding a controversial election, scheduled for Sunday, for a constituent assembly charged with overhauling the country's charter, Trump administration officials said.

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