Clashes kill 3 during Venezuela's anti-Maduro general strike

Jerome Frank
July 28, 2017

Reports we're getting from Venezuela indicate that parts of the country were, indeed, paralyzed by this strike.

Maduro is promoting the constitution rewrite as a means of resolving Venezuela's political standoff and economic crisis, but opposition leaders are boycotting it.

Prominent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez made a direct appeal to the military early Wednesday to withdraw its support from Maduro's plan which he called a "constitutional fraud" aimed at eliminating democratic rule.

That added to the previously announced deaths of a 23-year-old man and a 30-year-old man killed in western Merida state and a 16-year-old boy killed in the poor Caracas neighborhood of Petare during clashes on Wednesday.

Donald Trump's administration in United States slapped sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials on Wednesday as the country's opposition called a two-day nationwide strike ahead of President Nicolas Maduro's plan to hold an election over the weekend for a special congress to rewrite the constitution. At least 98 people have died in the four months of demonstrations, according to the AP.

Maduro has accused the USA of stoking unrest against his government, but President Trump said last week that Washington "will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles".

The Treasury Department on Wednesday levied onerous financial sanctions on several current and former officials in Venezuela on the eve of Sunday's National Constituent Assembly.

Venezuela's currency reserves have dwindled to under Dollars 10 billion as the government keeps up debt repayments at the expense of imports to stave off a crippling default.

Over the past couple of years the escalating crises in what once was the richest South American country has led to steep deterioration of public health with infectious diseases such as malaria creeping back. In the past, Maduro's administration has denied charges from Washington, calling them a pretext to try to topple socialism in Latin America and win control of Venezuela's oil sector.

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Government officials and candidates for the Constituent Assembly wrapped up campaigning on Thursday with a rally in Caracas with Maduro.

Lashing out against the United States, Venezuela's leader Maduro called the new USA sanctions against people from his regime "illegal, insolent and unprecedented", as cited by AFP.

Elections boss Lucena is scorned by opposition activists, who have said that she has delayed regional elections and blocked a recall referendum against Maduro at the behest of an autocratic government.

Supporters of the opposition and the Maduro government skirmished in the streets, with overnight volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets and homemade bombs arcing through the air in the capital.

"The dictatorship says we can't protest from tomorrow. So?"

Venezuela's long-time ideological foe the United States targeted the country's army and police chiefs, the national director of elections, and a vice president of the state oil company for alleged corruption and rights abuses.

Inflation is projected to top 720%. "To a social explosion?" asked Henrique Capriles, an opposition leader.

Three of the "shadow" judges have been arrested in the past few days by Venezuelan intelligence officials. Organizers claimed 92-percent support for the walkout.

They point in particular to the fact that this new assembly, this constituent assembly - that a third of its members are going to be drawn from organizations like, you know, workers' groups, for example, that are tied to the government socialist party.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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