CARACAS – Hundreds of members of the opposition turned out in cities throughout Venezuela on Wednesday to block streets and roads in rejection of the constitutional assembly convened by President Nicolas Maduro, the third action of this kind in the past week.
Lawmakers belonging to the opposition MUD coalition posted on Twitter photographs of protesters blocking roads in several municipalities around the country, a protest that began at noon and was scheduled to last for four hours.
EFE verified that this new “trancazo” (sit-in) – as this kind of protest is known in Venezuela – caused traffic tie-ups along Francisco de Miranda Avenue, one of the main transport arteries in Caracas, under rainy skies.
“These sit-ins of two, four, six hours are the prelude to what’s coming in this country,” opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens told those protesting with him, adding that Wednesday’s roadblocks were a dress rehearsal for future demonstrations to reject the constitutional assembly.
Requesens said that “the time will come, long before (July) 30th, on which these sit-ins won’t be for hours but rather for days,” referring to the date on which the government has scheduled the election to choose the members of the constitutional assembly, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.
The protests are being staged after the opposition announced that it was resorting to constitutional Article 350 to refuse to recognize the government, which sets forth that “any regime” that goes against democratic guarantees may be rejected by the people.
The earlier road blockades, staged on Monday around the country, resulted in more than 200 arrests and the looting of dozens of businesses in the northern city of Maracay, where a member of the Bolivarian National Guard, Venezuela’s militarized police, died when he was shot during the disturbances and a young man was wounded.
The opposition has repeatedly announced its intention to boycott the vote for the constitutional assembly which – in the words of Requesens – “will do away with democracy,” and Maduro has declared that the security forces will jail anyone who attempts to sabotage the electoral process.
In addition, Maduro said on Tuesday that government supporters will “take up arms” to do “what could not be done with votes” if the country were to slide into chaos and violence and the destruction of the socialist Bolivarian revolution appeared to be in the offing.
Since April 1, Venezuela has been experiencing a wave of pro- and anti-government protests, although most of the demonstrations have been staged to demand that Maduro leave power. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, leaving at least 76 people dead, according to the authorities.