Sunday, 26 May, 2019

Venezuela crisis: Maduro vows to defeat 'crazed minority'

Venezuelas Guaido in talks with unions to call public sector strike US eyes new sanctions against Venezuela’s Maduro regime: National Security Adviser John Bolton
Russell Knight | 08 March, 2019, 10:10

Maduro must decide whether to arrest Guaido for defying a travel ban - thereby provoking strong worldwide condemnation - or allow him to enter undisturbed, which would undermine his own authority, analysts say.

However, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said sanctions have worsened Venezuela's crippling economic and political crisis, which has forced 2.7 million people to flee since 2015.

Union leaders for state telecoms firm Cantv, national power company Corpoelec, and the foreign ministry told Reuters they would join a public sector strike.

The United States and some 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, arguing that Maduro's re-election a year ago was invalid - partly because popular opposition candidates were barred from running.

The man who says he is the rightful president, meanwhile, escalated his campaign to topple Maduro with an appeal for support from state unions, long reliant on government handouts.

As head of the opposition-led National Assembly, Guaido proclaimed himself Venezuela's interim president in January after the legislature declared Mr Maduro's re-election past year illegitimate.

The socialist government had kept unusually silent since Guaido landed, with no top officials commenting until Maduro spoke at the ceremony, held at the military barracks where Chavez launched a failed 1992 coup.

He also warned the U.S. is weighing more sanctions to pressure Maduro.

Unions from the oil industry, basic services, the public bank and local government took part in the meeting, union leader Ana Yanez told AFP.

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"Public sector workers have lost practically all their rights, we have no other option but to call for a civic strike", said Guaido, without giving further details.

In the same meeting, Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia accused Washington of seeking to topple President Maduro through military intervention, adding that the U.S.' policy toward Venezuela is tantamount to violating worldwide law.

As part of his challenge to President Maduro, Juan Guaido is attempting to take control of the state bureaucracy, which he considers to have been "kidnapped" through blackmail and persecution. "In the town halls, people only go to work 3 days a week and even then barely half the day", said Yanez.

Maduro was active on Twitter on Tuesday, but only to mark the anniversary of the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez.

President Maduro has done this before, calling his own counter-demonstration every time Juan Guaido announces a protest.

Both attract thousands of supporters, but the opposition gatherings usually have the edge in numbers.

Guaido then visited Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay to discuss with leaders his plan for a transition government ahead of holding a free and fair election.

Venezuela is experiencing widespread shortages of food and medicine and has the highest inflation rate in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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