Pressure rises in Venezuela to force Maduro to quit


CARACAS: Venezuela’s opposition ratcheted up the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro at mass protests on Wednesday, announcing plans for a new march and general strike.

Opposition leaders called a 12-hour general strike for Friday and vowed to use their legislative majority to issue a declaration holding the elected socialist accountable for his handling of a severe economic crisis.

“We are going to notify Nicolas Maduro that the Venezuelan people declare that he has abandoned his post,” the speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, said to cheers from hordes of protesters in Caracas.

He said his side would deliver that ruling in a march on November 3 to the presidential palace.

A recent poll found that more than 75 percent of Venezuelans disapprove of Maduro.

Jesus Torrealba, secretary general of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), drew thunderous applause when he announced the general strike.

“Everyone stay home,” he urged Venezuelans.

Opposition activists put the protest turnout at 1.2 million in the capital, the largest in a day of nationwide demos.

Clashes broke out at protests in other parts of the country. Three people were shot in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, said Alfredo Romero, head of Venezuelan rights group Foro Penal. In all, at least 20 people were injured and 80 detained nationwide, the group said.

Maduro held his own rally with thousands of supporters outside the presidential palace. His opponents accuse him of a “coup” after authorities last week halted a bid for a referendum on removing him from power; but the president says it is the opposition that is trying to stage a coup.



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