Caracas, Oct 26 (EFE).- The opposition MUD alliance is calling for a 12-hour general strike in Venezuela later this week and a protest at the presidential palace on Nov. 3, the political group’s executive secretary said Wednesday.
The general strike will take place on Friday, Jesus Torrealba said.
At the end of a demonstration that brought tens of thousands of people into the streets of Caracas and was part of Wednesday’s broader “Takeover of Venezuela” rallies nationwide, the MUD’s leaders said they would march to the Miraflores presidential palace to notify President Nicolas Maduro of the unicameral National Assembly’s decisions pertaining to his tenure in office.
The general strike will be staged to protest the “violation of the right to vote,” Torrealba said, referring to electoral authorities’ decision last week to suspend the opposition’s campaign to recall the leftist head of state.
He added that the opposition-controlled Assembly was carrying out impeachment proceedings aimed at removing Maduro from office for allegedly abandoning his duties.
The congressional action is essentially symbolic, however, because Supreme Court rulings since the opposition won a majority in the National Assembly last year have rendered it largely powerless.
The MUD called on Venezuelans to leave the country’s streets empty during the 12-hour general strike, while Maduro urged business leaders and workers not to take part in the job action.
“I’m issuing a call to work, and through work to defeat those who want to do harm to our country, those who want to fill us with violence, those who want to destabilize the country,” the socialist head of state told thousands of his supporters at the end of a pro-government march Wednesday in Caracas.
He said the opposition was following the same blueprint it used in April 2002, when it briefly ousted his mentor and predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, from power in a coup after a strike in the oil sector and later carried out a crippling general strike from December 2002 to February 2003.
National Assembly Speaker Henry Ramos Allup, for his part, referred to the plans for a march to the Miraflores presidential palace on Nov. 3, saying it would be peaceful but that protesters would make their way to the seat of government even if “the repressive forces of the regime” try to stop them.
On Nov. 3, Maduro will be notified that the legislature has found him in breach of duty, Ramos Allup said.
Ramos Allup convened a special session of congress over the weekend after the CNE election council put on hold the second phase of a signature-gathering campaign aimed at forcing a referendum on recalling Maduro.
The CNE’s action last week followed court rulings in five states that invalidated some of the signatures collected in the first phase of the process.
The opposition majority in the Assembly passed a resolution Sunday declaring a rupture in the constitutional order and urging military personnel to disregard “unconstitutional” orders, as well as asking the international community to take action against Maduro.
On Monday, Pope Francis’ special envoy to Venezuela, Monsignor Emil Paul Scherrig, announced that Maduro’s government and the MUD had agreed to begin a dialogue on Oct. 30 on Isla Margarita.
But opposition leader Henrique Capriles said Wednesday that the MUD would not take part in those talks, calling on Maduro to pick up the phone and order CNE chief Tibisay Lucena to set a date for the presidential recall campaign’s second signature-gathering stage.
Opposition leaders, meanwhile, said on social media that numerous people had been injured during Wednesday’s “Takeover of Venezuela” rallies.
Oil-rich Venezuela is experiencing a severe economic and political crisis triggered in part by the plunge in global crude prices.