Opposition calls for strike against Venezuelan president's constitution rewrite plans

28 Jul 2017 | Written by Abheet Sethi; Edited by Gaurav Jeyaraman

Venezuelan opposition leaders have called on workers nationwide to stay home as part of a 48-hour strike aimed at protesting against President Nicolas Maduro's plans to hold a controversial constituent assembly election on July 30.

The assembly has the power to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution which critics argue would allow Maduro to expand his powers.

Maduro claims it will facilitate peace and stability.

In context: Venezuela's controversial constituent assembly vote leads to protests

BackgroundRoots of the crisis

Venezuela's primary source of income is from its vast oil reserves.

The recent slump in oil prices compounded a pre-existent economic crisis which was precipitated by over-exploitation and corrupt practices in government sponsored social welfare schemes.

Inflation in the country will soon touch 700% according to the IMF, and the economy is on the verge of collapse.

Unemployment rates are also skyrocketing.

20 Jul 2017Venezuela defies US sanctions threat on constituent assembly election

On July 20. the Venezuelan government said it will hold a controversial constituent assembly election despite threats of US sanctions.

The assembly would be empowered to bypass the opposition-controlled legislature and rewrite the country's constitution.

US President Donald Trump had threatened to take "economic actions" if the assembly vote proceeded.

Trump also called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "a bad leader."

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28 Jul 2017Opposition calls for strike against Venezuelan president's constitution rewrite plans

Opposition believes Maduro is trying to entrench himself to power

The Venezuelan opposition believes Maduro wants to use the constituent assembly to entrench himself to power. Maduro feels a new constitution would help promote dialogue in the polarized crisis-hit country.

Call for rally Opposition leader says Maduro is committing "constitutional fraud"

Opposition leader Leopoldo López, who is under house arrest, said Maduro's plans to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution would result in an end to democracy.

He called on the Venezuelan people to step up street protests and for the military to stop supporting the government.

Lopez referred to Maduro's actions as "constitutional fraud" and "repression."

International pressureInternational pressure against the Maduro regime mounts

Maduro is facing mounting pressure from Colombia, France and Spain to drop his assembly plans.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned it "risks further polarizing the country and increasing confrontation."

Maduro responded by calling her "insolent," adding that Venezuela isn't an EU colony.

Venezuela also banned the presidents of five former Latin American countries from entering the country to monitor the unofficial referendum.

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28 Jul 2017Venezuela govt. bans protests that 'disturb' controversial vote

The Venezuelan government has banned protests which may "disturb or affect" a controversial election for a new constituent assembly scheduled for July 30.

Violators could receive between five and 10-year prison sentences.

The opposition has called for mass protests on July 28. Over 100 people have been killed in protest-related violence since April.

The opposition considers the assembly vote a move towards dictatorship.