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In one of the most controversial policy speeches of his presidency last Friday, Nicolás Maduro announced a broad set of economic reforms with staggering and unprecedented implications that will add fuel to the economic fire and boost an already unsustainable hyperinflationary model. August 17 will probably be remembered as the blackest of Fridays in Venezuelan history.
The reaction from opposition parties, unions, economists, business guilds, activists and you name it, didn’t take long: An open call for a national strike set social media on fire under #UniónNacionalYHuelgaGeneral and #ParoNacionalYProtesta.
Today, Andrés Velásquez (legitimate Bolívar governor and directive member of La Causa R) offered some details from VP’s headquarters about the call for a national strike and civil protests that will take place on Tuesday, August 21.
ATENCION. Convocamos este martes #21Ago a un primer día de PROTESTA Y PARO NACIONAL, en contra de Maduro, en contra de la hiperinflación y el hambre. Mañana daremos los detalles #UnionNacionalYHuelgaGeneral
— Andres Velasquez (@AndresVelasqz) August 18, 2018
“Maduro is the sole responsible for the national decline. His government only cares about their private political agenda. These measures do not respond to a plan of economic recovery, quite the opposite: These measures will mean pain, hunger, unemployment and misery.”
The press conference was backed by spokesmen and representatives from guilds affected by Maduro’s paquetazo: “Political parties and organizations won’t be solely responsible for this national strike. The time has come for civilians and guilds to take responsibility. This strike is for the workers whose salary was obliterated, the asphyxiated businessman, the students who no longer count on quality public education, the drivers who find themselves amidst a broken transport system; this strike is for every Venezuelan family who has already been affected by these measures. Tomorrow will be darker than today, and we cannot remain passive in the face of chaos. Let’s put pettiness aside, let’s unite to achieve what we desperately need.”
Jorge Millán and Iván Freites talked head-on about the governmental practices that lead the country to the utter collapse we see today: “The government squandered our money while stealing everything they could. They destroyed our most powerful enterprises, PDVSA and Guayana’s industries. (…) We cannot let them destroy the little we have left.”
During Velásquez’s round of questions, he repeated himself over and over, as journalists required specific information to understand the goals, methodology and agenda behind this national strike: “We’re calling for a 24 hour strike. On Tuesday, everybody who disagrees with these wild measures must stay home. Those who wish to take the opportunity to protest at their workplace, as nurses have been doing for a while now, are free to do it (…) This is a necessary first step that aims to unify our fight. It’s meant to set a clear path for the country, to establish a political route with the certainty to achieve the results Venezuelans need (…) We believe in an agenda that’ll include more strikes and more protests to help us set the ground for an indefinite national strike. We need a political direction for all the protests we’ve witnessed over the past weeks for services, salary and crime.”
Indeed, it’s worth noticing how protests from civil society have developed all around the nation, as a response to the absolute meltdown of different sectors. Velásquez also stated that Venezuelans have a constitutional right to reject these economic measures, and they’ll do it with Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia, Vente Venezuela and La Causa R standing by them.