Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Venezuela Opposition Leader Urges Public, Army, on Strike

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Venezuela Opposition Leader Urges Public, Army, on Strike

Article excerpt

CARACAS, Venezuela * Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez called on Venezuelans to support a 48-hour general strike beginning Wednesday in protest of government plans to rewrite the constitution, in his first direct public message since being released from prison to house arrest.

Lopez, 46, a former mayor from the Caracas area who was sentenced to 14 years in 2015 after being convicted of inciting violence during a previous spate of protests, also appealed to the military not to deploy for Sunday's election of a constituent assembly tasked with overhauling the embattled nation's charter.

"We are on the brink of their trying to annihilate the republic that you swore to defend," Lopez said in a 15-minute video message. "I ask you not to be accomplices in the annihilation of the republic."

Streets were quiet Wednesday morning in much of Caracas, the capital, as many residents stayed home in observance of the strike.

President Nicolas Maduro is promoting the constitution rewrite as a means of resolving Venezuela's political standoff and economic crisis, but opposition leaders are boycotting it. …

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