Opposition insists national strike still on
Leslie Mazoch / AP
Workers at the National Elections Council, or CNE, verify 2 million
signatures presented by the opposition which petitioned for a
nonbinding referendum on the rule of President Hugo Chavez, at the CNE
in Caracas, Venezuela.
CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 26 — A national strike to demand a vote on
President Hugo Chavez's rule will go ahead next week despite calls for
it to be suspended, a strike organizer said Tuesday.
''A suspension of the strike is not planned under any circumstances,''
said Antonio Ledezma, a member of the Democratic Coordinator
opposition group. ''In fact I think it should be brought forward.''
Others in Venezuela's opposition said the strike could be avoided if
the National Elections Council, or CNE, sets a referendum date this
One of the biggest strike organizers, the one million-member
Venezuelan Workers Confederation (CTV), will discuss on Wednesday
suspending the strike pending the council's decision.
''I think the (Democratic) Coordinator would revise the strike
decision at the end of this week'' if the CNE fixes a date and the
government agrees to stand by it, CTV Secretary General Manuel Cova
said on local radio.
In the meantime, strike preparations continue at full steam, Cova said
shortly before entering a round of peace talks between the government
and the opposition.
Organization of American States Secretary General Cesar Gaviria is
mediating the talks, and hopes to make a breakthrough before next
The CNE is charged with verifying 2 million signatures submitted by
the opposition petitioning for a nonbinding referendum. More than two
thirds have already been checked, CNE Vice President Jose Manuel Zerpa
Chavez, who was elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2000, argues the
earliest a referendum on his rule can be held is August 2003 — halfway
through his six-year term.
The opposition — which includes labor, business and political parties
— insists Venezuela is too polarized and too mired in economic
recession to wait that long. It is calling the fourth general strike
in less than a year to seek a swifter solution.
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