People’s World | July 21, 2017
An anti-government protester holds a fire bomb during clashes with security forces in Caracas, July 10. Opposition supporters have now called for a lockout to block President Maduro’s planned constituent assembly. | Ariana Cubillos / AP
Venezuela’s opposition launched a bosses’ lockout yesterday – a day after declaring a rival government to President Nicolás Maduro’s.
The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition called the “general strike” on Monday as part of its “zero-hour” plan for regime change before the July 30 elections over the new constitutional reform assembly it opposes.
It follows three months of street violence that has left more than 90 dead.
The move echoed the 2002- 2003 management lockout at state oil firm PDVSA, following the failed military coup against Maduro’s late predecessor Hugo Chávez that April.
Outgoing Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecamaras) president Francisco Martinez was non-committal on Wednesday, saying, “He who wants to work, work. Who wants to stop, stop.”
But his incoming successor Carlos Larrazabal warned against a protracted lockout that would exacerbate the consumer shortages driving discontent.
“If the supply chains are affected more than they are right now,” he said, “we could have a bigger problem.”
Recent People’s World coverage of the crisis in Venezuela:
And more than 500 business-people at a conference on transformation to a “post-oil economy” opposed the strike call “wherever it comes from.”
Labor Minister Néstor Ovalles said, “Businesses that join the strike will be punished” for any “disruption that violates the working class’s right to work.”
Unions also rejected the call from outside their ranks.
“Everyone is going to work,” said brewery and soft drinks union Sintracerliv president Frank Quijada.
He said bosses were “restricting the right to work by closing their doors.”
But the pro-opposition Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation (CTV), which backed the 2002 coup, said 12 of its 20 affiliates would walk out in support.
MUD spokesman Henry Ramos said the opposition-controlled National Assembly would appoint new judges to the Supreme Justice Tribunal (TSJ) today, usurping those appointed before MUD MPs were sworn in on January 5.
This article originally appeared in Morning Star.