CARACAS – The Venezuelan opposition began the first of a planned three days of demonstrations by closing down streets with barricades, obstacles and tons of trash in protest against the election of the National Constituent Assembly next Sunday.
At noon Friday, the blocking of streets in Caracas began chiefly on the east side of the city, an area known as a bastion of the opposition and the principal scenes of protests.
Though the closing of the streets has restricted traffic around much of the eastern part of the Venezuelan capital, the presence of demonstrators in the streets is reduced to groups of several score of citizens.
Members of the opposition plan to keep up the protests for three days until the government curfew takes effect on election day and despite the official ban on any kind of public gathering or demonstration that might interfere with the normal progress of the elections.
Some protests in the Chacao municipality of Caracas have been dispersed by security forces, though as yet it is unknown whether any demonstrators were injured or arrested.
Opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido posted on Twitter several pictures of desolate streets and traffic jams in Caracas.
“On Francisco de Miranda Avenue, citizens block traffic. Neither (Interior and Justice Minister Nestor) Reverol nor anyone else can ban the protest. Onward with the resistance,” Guaido said about the prohibition imposed by the authorities.
The deputy speaker of the National Assembly legislature, the anti-Chavista Freddy Guevara, asserted that protesting “is a right” and said the opposition would take over “every corner of the country” to show they’re not going anywhere nor will they let themselves “become slaves.”
Opposition lawmaker Luis Stefanelli said they will continue occupying the streets because streets “belong to the people.”
Another opposition legislator, Gaby Arrellano, tweeted that some “paramilitary” forces were shooting at demonstrators around Rubio in the western state of Tachira.
The Constituent Assembly will have the power to reform the government and rewrite the constitution.
The Nicolas Maduro government says these elections are the only way to resolve the nation’s political, social and economic crises, though the opposition sees it as a consolidation of the “dictatorship.”
Up to now, at least 108 people have died in opposition protests against the Venezuelan government since early last April.