Caracas: A Tale of Two Cities as Opposition 'Strike' Begins

A Venezuelan petroleum worker processes crude oil at a government-run center

A Venezuelan petroleum worker processes crude oil at a government-run center

The strike comes as the Trump administration in the United States weighs up imposing "swift economic actions" if Maduro goes ahead with the election. "It is a shameless and vile statement that represents clear meddling in the internal affairs of the country". Opposition members fear it will create a single-party, authoritarian state along the lines of the system in Cuba, a close Maduro ally.

"They (the government) can do whatever they want, but know this: What I am doing is the correct thing to do, and I assume full responsibility for it".

In February, the Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in global drug trafficking - a charge he denies.

In May, Maduro announced his decision to call the National Constituent Assembly, which was regarded by the opposition as an attempted coup.

While that number can not be independently verified, it's roughly equivalent to the number of votes garnered by winning candidates in recent Venezuelan elections, an indication that Venezuelans would vote down the constitutional assembly if asked in an official referendum.

"This is my response, the constituent assembly does not belong to me.

We encourage governments in the hemisphere and around the world to call on President Maduro to suspend this process which only seeks to undermine democracy in Venezuela", Nauert said.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, says it is considering a wide range of possible sanctions against Venezuela, including restrictions on oil imports from that country.

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Maduro has called for a vote on 30 July to elect a constituent assembly charged with rewriting the constitution.

Maduro's attacks against the United States occurred less than a week after the head of state claimed to be seeking "a relationship of respect between the American and Venezuelan governments". It is an act of political sovereignty of the Republic, nothing and no one can stop it.

"The Constituent Assembly is going ahead!" The opposition said that more than 7.5 million people voted against the constitutional assembly at unofficial ballot boxes set up nationwide and in expatriate communities Sunday.

Polls show Venezuela's ruling Socialists would be thrashed in any conventional election. "They have to call general elections".

European Union diplomat Federica Mogherini likewise urged President Nicolas Maduro to suspend plans to convene the ANC, noting that the move would be "an important gesture" toward de-escalating tensions.

"The violence is getting worse and the actions by the security apparatus are escalating", OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro wrote on Wednesday.

A current crisis in Venezuela demonstrates the inability of the national leader Nicolás Maduro to cope with the challenges.

Maduro defended Venezuela's "dignity and sovereignty" against these threats Monday, telling Rajoy to "get your nose out of Venezuela" while reminding the "insolent" Mogherini that "Venezuela is a free, sovereign country. not a colony of Europe".

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