HAVANA TIMES – The Venezuelan opposition today reiterated its call for a national 12-hour strike on Friday, as a new protest action against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, which seeks to avoid a recall referendum.
The opposition alliance (MUD) issued a statement calling on the population to go out on strike tomorrow for 12 hours, to pressure the government into “abiding by the Constitution” and to respect its “right to choose.”
“The call for a citizens’ strike is for the people to leave the streets and workplaces empty from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. This is not an employer or commercial strike is a strike of all,” said MUD.
The statement asks people to stay home during the designated time.
Meanwhile, the largest food producer in the country, Empresas Polar, reported that its main plant of Caracas and the home of its owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, were visited by agents of the political police, the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin), who took up positions with weapons in a supposed action of “protection”.
“SEBIN officials came to intimidate those who are working for Venezuela,” the company workers said in a statement.
The opposition launched a series of protests to pressure the government to lift its suspension of the recall referendum on Maduro, that this week was to enter its final stage of collecting signatures of voters before its activation.
The consultation process was suspended by the National Electoral Council (CNE) after last minute courts in several regions admitted a complaint alleging fraud in the first phase of the signature gathering to call a referendum back in April.
The judiciary and the CNE are stacked with government supporters, note the opposition.
In the afternoon, Maduro announced a minimum wage increase and warned employers that the Government will take over companies whose workers abide by the strike.
The president announced that inspections will take place Friday at industrial, agribusiness and pharmaceutical companies to “verify that they are producing, working.”
Maduro threatened, “Any business on strike will be taken over by the working class. I will not hesitate nor accept any kind of conspiracy. People need to work, to produce. We will not let the Yankee model of destabilization be imposed.”
Venezuela is Cuba’s leading political and economic ally supplying the island with virtually all of its imported oil on highly favorable terms. It also contracts with the Castro government for the professional services of tens of thousands of doctors and other professionals.