CARACAS, VeneZuela – The nation's opposition party is calling for a 48-hour general strike in Caracas on Wednesday and Thursday in a continuation of protests over President Nicolas Maduro's plan to elect a new assembly next weekend and rewrite the country's constitution.
Deputy Simon Calzadilla, speaking for Unidad Democratica, urged Venezuelans to go to their electoral centers Monday at 10 a.m. to place banners and protest signs that say "in my voting place there won't be constituent assembly."
Calzadilla, in an e-mail, also asked citizens to rally to Caracas on Friday to "demand massively" that Maduro's government halt the assembly vote.
"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," Calzadilla said in the statement. "Center by center, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood to defeat Maduro's proposal."
Maduro has signaled 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. With the oil-exporting economy already in a tailspin, investors say some sort of ban on crude exports from Venezuela may force the country into default on its debt.
Julio Borges, president of Venezuela's National Assembly, called the coming week "crucial." In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Borges appealed for international help in stopping Maduro's assembly and to lay the groundwork for a "real and deep negotiation with the participation of the international community."
"Venezuela is not only a Venezuelan problem right now," he said.