One day after his return to Venezuela, interim president Juan Guaido held a meeting today with unionized public sector workers to discuss the ongoing crisis in the country.
After the meeting, Guaido said that the unions had proposed an “escalated general strike” to be carried out by the country’s public sector workers. On the repercussions that the strike is likely to bring to those who participate, Guaido said:
We know that there will be persecution, but we have the means. Today more than ever Venezuela depends on each of us, [and that] we stop collaborating with this shameful regime.
Guaido also said that during the meeting, he heard workers complain that they did not want to be extorted by the regime with government services and subsidized goods in exchange for their political alliance, and suggested that the National Assembly would work to entrench protections against that behaviour into the law. Guaido also said that the opposition would conduct a census of public sector employees who have been fired for political reasons.
While Guaido did not announce when the general strikes would begin, he did say that he expected that the union workers who attended today’s meetings would pass the information on to their colleagues in their respective workplaces tomorrow, which suggests that the date for the action has yet to be defined.
During the meeting, a man named Jose Patines from the Minister of Foreign Affair’s worker’s union took to the microphone and asked Guaido to guarantee their jobs because him and his colleagues were planning to help “rebuild the country” from their positions in a post-Maduro Venezuela.
Below, Patines’ comments to Guaido:
Jose Patines: … lawyers, that they join this struggle. We are [from] the Minister of Foreign Affair’s union. My name is Jose Patines, and I’m here to ask the interim president a question. We need your support. We need your support to tell all public sector employees that [you will] guarantee their positions. This is very important. Even though we don’t earn anything, we’re watching out for our positions because [we want to help] completely rebuild the country! And everyone in the foreign service is waiting for us! Ministry of Foreign Affairs! Calle y lucha! Calle y lucha! Calle y lucha! [literally, “streets and struggle!”, meaning “Let’s stay on the streets and continue this struggle against Maduro”)
Maduro Tries to “Ignore” the “Crazy Minority”
During an event this afternoon marking the 6th anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez, Maduro took glancing shots at Guaido’s return from abroad yesterday, and suggested a strategy for his followers for dealing with the opposition’s renewed strength.
Don’t let yourselves be tricked or confused. We’re fighting for our homeland (…) we should ignore the crazy minority.
Maduro did not use the word for “ignore” (ignorar): rather, her used a crass term (no le paremos bola) which means “ignore” but has no literal translation into English.
During that same speech, Maduro called on his supporters to take to the streets this coming March 9, just a day after Guaido called for nationwide anti-government protests that same day. Maduro said:
This coming March 9, Saturday, it’s the four year anniversary of the infamous decree by Barack Obama delcaring Venezuela an infamous threat to the security of the United States (…) and I declared it Bolivarian Anti-Imperialism Day (…) let’s take to the streets that day.
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