An opposition strike announced just a few days ago has left many parts of Caracas and other cities completely blocked. On Thursday, Venezuelans took the streets to protest against the government, which plans on holding constituent assembly elections in ten days.
The beginning of the general strike was set for early Thursday but in some cities, streets were blocked hours before. Venezuelans used just about anything they could to block the streets, including tires, broken fences and tree logs. Many businesses were also closed during the general strike. Pictures posted on social media show empty streets across the country.
Strike and Months of Protests
The Venezuelan government continues its plans for the constituent assembly election, which is scheduled for July 30. The decision to hold elections has been heavily criticized by world leaders and the opposition, which says it is just another move to try to keep the president in power. On Sunday, July 16, the opposition held a referendum, which received more than seven million votes. The referendum was announced just two weeks before and despite having just a few thousand voting places, many Venezuelans voted to show their disapproval for the constituent assembly. Government officials accused people of voting multiple times and have downplayed the referendum saying it lacks legitimacy.
The strike comes after three months of protests, which have left more than 90 people dead and hundreds more injured. The strike also comes days after US President Donald Trump warned the government about the constituent assembly. In a statement, the US president said there would be economic sanctions if the constituent assembly took place on July 30. The Venezuelan government has already responded to the warning and has said it will continue the plans.
The US President did not reveal what the sanctions would be if the constituent assembly takes place but experts say it could be against its oil sector. Venezuela’s oil sector has been very important for the country in recent years but it could suffer if the US stops buying oil or decides not to sell them the materials needed for the process. Earlier this year, the US announced sanctions for government officials. A few hours ago, several news sites reported that Venezuela and Russia were discussing a Citgo collateral deal to avoid US sanctions. According to recent reports, the US could also announce more sanctions against Venezuelan government officials if the constituent assembly takes place.