CARACAS – Many shops remained closed and numerous streets were blocked by demonstrators on Thursday on the second day of a general strike called by the Venezuelan opposition to demand President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation.
Three people have died and 159 have been arrested in incidents arising from the protest.
“We completed more than 24 hours of a civic strike, 24 hours for the people’s will to be respected and the fraud prevented,” opposition lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez wrote on Twitter, referring to next Sunday’s scheduled election of delegates to a constitutional convention.
Venezuela’s second general strike in less than a week aims to increase pressure on Maduro to abandon his plan for a Constituent Assembly, which opposition groups say would lead to a “consolidation of the dictatorship.”
The MUD opposition coalition organized the strike with support from Venezuela’s main business federation, Fedecamaras, which backed the abortive 2002 coup against Maduro’s predecessor and political mentor, the late Hugo Chavez.
Strike proponents urged citizens to block streets and many responded by erecting barricades of furniture and refuse.
The GNB militarized police used pellets and tear gas in various spots across Venezuela on Wednesday to clear the streets and disperse protesters, who in some instances reacted by hurling rocks and other objects at the officers.
Human rights group Foro Penal said that 159 people were arrested Wednesday at protests in the course of “arbitrary and illegal” raids on private homes.
A teenager died in Caracas and two young men were killed in the western state of Merida amid the protests.
Since April 1, more than 100 Venezuelans – including both opponents and supporters of the Maduro government – have died in the course of protests and disturbances.