1000s join Venezuela pro-government rally as Maduro slams ‘failed’ strike
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Caracas for a third mass rally this week to support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro amid efforts by the opposition to topple him.
Maduro addressed the rally on Friday, saying the Latin American country has “triumphed” against US-backed efforts to destabilize it after an opposition strike planned for this week fell flat.
“The strike called by the fascist right has been a failure. They failed. Peace, work and coexistence have triumphed. Venezuela has triumphed,” Maduro said at the demonstration.
The remarks came following a low turnout in the 12-hour strike called by the Democratic Unity opposition coalition on Wednesday. It dealt another blow to the opposition after authorities earlier foiled its push for a referendum to oust the socialist president.
The government’s move triggered protest rallies attended by hundreds of pro-opposition forces as dissident lawmakers voted on Tuesday to take legal action against the Venezuelan leader, whom they accuse of violating the constitution.
Maduro, however, described the effort as a “political trial” and said anyone who violated the constitution should be jailed.
Under Venezuela’s constitution, a recall referendum can be held once a president has served half of his term in office and the requisite steps are met.So far, the opposition has only completed the first step of the process.
A total of 97 people were reportedly detained during Wednesday’s rallies, including seven police officers accused of rights abuses, judicial authorities said. Nearly 82 people were also injured that day, including 26 security officers.
Despite having the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering a third year of recession, with many skipping meals due to shortages and soaring prices.
Earliest this week, Maduro announced measures to offset economic hardship – mostly caused by falling oil prices – vowing to implement a 40-percent hike of the minimum wage.
Venezuela is gripped by a deepening economic crisis which the US-backed opposition blames on the government’s economic policies. Maduro, however, rejects such allegations, referring to the crisis as a capitalist conspiracy.