CARACAS – The non-governmental organization Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV) said on Wednesday that at least 50 people were arrested on the first day of a 48-hour general strike called by the political opposition, during which one man died in western Venezuela.
According to FPV chief Alfredo Romero, of the 50 people arrested, 33 of them were taken into custody in the state of Zulia, two in Falcon, two in Tachira and three in Merida.
In addition, five people were arrested in Carabobo, and one each in the states of Aragua, Miranda and Sucre.
Meanwhile, state security forces and groups of demonstrators clashed in several cities where opponents of President Nicolas Maduro blocked streets and set up barricades, disrupting traffic.
In Caracas, demonstrators blocked streets with barricades and piles of garbage, and the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), Venezuela’s militarized police, tried to disperse them using tear gas and rubber bullets, although the protesters regrouped after the GNB moved on.
EFE verified that one person was wounded in eastern Caracas, but opposition lawmakers said that at least four people had been injured during the course of the day.
The situation was similar in cities like Merida, where a 30-year-old man died during an anti-government protest, raising the death toll to at least 101 since the wave of demonstrations against the Maduro government erupted in early April.
Although Caracas was partially paralyzed on Wednesday due to the strike, in the western part of the capital, traffic and other activities were proceeding relatively normally.
The blockades and traffic jams on streets and highways primarily affected the municipalities of El Hatillo, Chacao and Sucre, which are governed by opposition politicians.
The strike, convened as a measure to exert increased pressure on the government, follows another 24-hour strike a week ago against Maduro’s administration and the selection of members of the constitutional assembly, a vote scheduled for next Sunday.
The strike by workers and businessmen coincides with the next-to-last day of the election campaign by the Chavista government for the constitutional assembly, a day on which assorted events and celebrations are being held nationwide.
The opposition protest is scheduled to continue until midnight on Thursday.
On July 30, Venezuelans will be called to the polls to select the more than 500 members of the Constituent National Assembly, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution, a move that the opposition staunchly opposes.