CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that supporters of Chavism – the country’s socialist political and economic model – will “take up arms” to do what could not be achieved “with votes” if the country descends into violence and the Bolivarian revolution were in danger of being overturned.
“If Venezuela were to sink into chaos and violence and the Bolivarian revolution were to be destroyed, we would go to war. We’ll never surrender and what could not be done with votes we would do with arms, we would liberate our homeland with arms,” said the president during a political event in Caracas.
Maduro called on the world to listen to his warning, which was contained in an obligatory radio and television broadcast after three months of anti-government protests that have led to at least 75 deaths, saying that this is “the only option for peace that Venezuela has.”
“Let nobody be deceived, we want peace. We’re men and women of peace, but we’re warriors,” he added.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on his Twitter account that, with these words, Maduro on Tuesday “declared war on Venezuelans.”
The president has called for the convening of a National Constitutional Assembly in July to draft a new Constitution as “the only path to achieving peace” in the South American country, which is mired in a dire political and social crisis.
The opposition coalition, on the other hand, has called upon its supporters to continue taking to the streets to demonstrate, not to recognize the government and to prepare themselves to prevent the polling places from being used “for fraud” on July 30, the date on which the members of the Constitutional Assembly are to be elected.
The government has warned that anyone attempting to sabotage the election process will be punished with jail time.