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Venezuela’s opposition calls for defiance against state of emergency

President Maduro announces “counter-offensive” against foreign “threats”

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday. REUTERS

Venezuela’s opposition has come out in open defiance of the government of President Nicolás Maduro, telling its supporters to ignore the state of emergency decreed over the weekend. “If Maduro wants to apply the decree, then he should start bringing out the tanks. We’re not going to accept it, and I am calling on the country to take no notice of the decree. I am saying this to the armed forces, for whom the moment of truth is coming… We don’t want a military solution, but this is unacceptable,” said leading opposition figure Hector Capriles, the governor of the state of Miranda, on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, President Maduro has said that he is the victim of an international conspiracy to overthrow his government. “Venezuela is being led toward a situation of widespread violence to justify an international military intervention,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday, adding that he was launching a political “counter-offensive” to deal with “threats” and “attacks” from the United States, Spain, and Colombia.

Former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is in Caracas along with the ex-presidents of Panama and the Dominican Republic in a bid to mediate between the government and the opposition.

Venezuela is being led toward a situation of widespread violence to justify an international military intervention

President Maduro, on Tuesday

The opposition-controlled National Assembly on Tuesday rejected the state of emergency giving Maduro the right to limit constitutional guarantees. Opposition figures dismiss the move as a way to avoid holding the recall referendum on his mandate they are demanding.

Maduro’s decree also gives him the power to ban all marches and demonstrations and to restrict movement. Capriles says he and the opposition will continue to insist that the electoral commission register the more than 1.8 million signatures it handed over two weeks ago gathered as the first step toward holding a recall referendum this year.

Capriles said that marches will be held on Wednesday throughout Venezuela, with protestors gathering outside the offices of the electoral commission in major cities.

In Caracas, opposition leaders say they will ignore City Hall’s ban on marches.

Previous marches have been violently broken up by the police, who have erected huge cordons around the main offices of the electoral commission in the capital.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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