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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Authorities fear more violence in Venezuela as opposition calls for 48-hour strike

Opposition party Union Democratica

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CARACAS, Venezuela - More violence is expected to break out in Venezuela after the country’s opposition party Union Democratica called for a 48-hour general strike in Caracas on Wednesday and Thursday.

The opposition party - that is protesting President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to elect a new constituent assembly next weekend and rewrite the country’s constitution - has also threatened further activities to disrupt the assembly vote.

Speaking for Unidad Democratica, Deputy Simon Calzadilla, urged Venezuelans to go to their electoral centers on Monday at 10 a.m. to place banners and protest signs that read, “In my voting place there won’t be constituent assembly."

Further, Calzadilla urged citizens in a written statement to rally to Caracas on Friday to "demand massively" that Maduro’s government halt the assembly vote.

He said, “If the regime doesn’t cancel this fraud by Friday, the party will inform of the actions it will behold on July 29 and 30. Center by center, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood to defeat Maduro’s proposal."

Meanwhile, Maduro has responded by signaling that he would proceed despite U.S. threats of "strong and swift economic actions" and a symbolic vote against it by 7.5 million Venezuelans - who participated in an unsanctioned ballot. 

The country is continuing to suffer a deep economic crisis, due to the falling price of oil, which accounts for about 95 percent of its export revenues and was used to finance some of the government's generous social programmes. 

For four months now, anti-government unrest has claimed about 100 lives, injuring thousands, and leaving hundreds in jail.

The unrest has damaged an economy in its fourth year of a debilitating decline.

The country and the capital in specific has suffered daily clashes, since the opposition Democratic Unity coalition and a self-styled youth-led "Resistance" movement took to the streets in April. 

Investors have now claimed that some sort of ban on crude exports from Venezuela may force the country into default on its debt.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is reportedly considering financial sanctions on Venezuela that would halt dollar payments for the country's oil.

U.S. is aiming to pressure President Maduro into aborting plans for a controversial new congress however, such a move will severely restrict the OPEC nation's crude exports and starve its government of hard currency.

The oil-related measures are currently under discussion at the White House.

Over the weekend, as protesters gathered on the streets, shouting anti-government slogans, the National Guard troops were forced to use tear gas in at least one location in Caracas, blocking protesters with clouds of white gas and rows of officers on motorcycles.

 

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