Venezuelans begin ‘final offensive’ walkout

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The 24-hour walkout is under way and is the first of its kind since the 2002 protest that failed to topple Hugo Chavez.

It is being spearheaded by opposition politicians following an unofficial referendum – voted in by a third of citizens – which unanimously rejected the President’s reforms.

Mr Maduro plans to consolidate power over the few institutions outside his control by creating an assembly to re-write the constitution. Opponents are boycotting the election on July 30.

  1. An armored vehicle hits demonstrators during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in CaracasAn armored vehicle hits demonstrators during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas
    An armoured vehicle hits demonstrators during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas
  2. An armoured vehicle hits demonstrators An armoured vehicle hits demonstrators
    Venezuela’s military chiefs reaffirmed their loyalty to President Maduro by saying their forces would protect a controversial vote he has called for next week to elect a body to rewrite the constitution.
  3. View of a burned truck View of a burned truck
    A 24-hour nationwide strike has been called for Thursday, launching what the opposition calls a “final offensive” to push President Maduro out of office
  4. A demonstrator throws a molotov cocktail at security forces A demonstrator throws a molotov cocktail at security forces
    A demonstrator throws a molotov cocktail at security forces. Continue through for more pictures
  5. Demonstrators use slingshots during clashes Demonstrators use slingshots during clashes
  6. Demonstrators build a barricadeDemonstrators build a barricade
  7. A demonstrator throws back a tear gas canister during clashesA demonstrator throws back a tear gas canister during clashes
  8. Demonstrators confront security forces during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in CaracasDemonstrators confront security forces during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas
  9. Pedestrians and a motorcyclist pass through a barricade Pedestrians and a motorcyclist pass through a barricade
  10. A barefoot man throws a bottle on a barricade A barefoot man throws a bottle on a barricade
  11. An armored vehicle on fire during clashes with demonstrators An armored vehicle on fire during clashes with demonstrators
  12. A pedestrian walks through a barricade A pedestrian walks through a barricade
  13. A car and a motorcyclist pass through a barricade A car and a motorcyclist pass through a barricade
  14. An armoured vehicle hits demonstrators An armoured vehicle hits demonstrators
  15. A demonstrator hurls rocks at security forces during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in CaracasA demonstrator hurls rocks at security forces during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas
  16. An armoured vehicle on fire during clashes with demonstratorsAn armoured vehicle on fire during clashes with demonstrators
  17. A pedestrian walks past a barricade A pedestrian walks past a barricade
  18. Demonstrators block a road during clashes Demonstrators block a road during clashes
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The country remains hugely at odds, with its largest business group cautiously endorsing the strike, while the labour minister warned companies that supported the walkout would be “sanctioned”.

Violent marches featured in the run-up to the strike, with molotov cocktails thrown at security forces and armoured vehicles used by the military ploughing into demonstrators.

Opponents have called the strike a “final offensive”.

International reaction has been firmly against Mr Maduro, with US President Donald Trump threatening “swift economic sanctions” against Venezuela if the planned election goes ahead.

The EU and UN have also intervened and voiced fears it will only deepen the country’s political crisis and add to the death toll currently standing at 97 since street protests started in April.

A demonstrator throws a molotov cocktail at security forces
Image:A demonstrator throws a molotov cocktail at security forces

But Mr Maduro has vowed to press on “now more than ever” and to punish “conspirators” who try to stop him. He is backed by the military.

Despite being an oil-rich nation, Venezuela is staggering under food and medicine shortages, triple-digit inflation, rising crime and reeling currency controls.

The government blames an economic “war” waged against it by the US.

But the opposition political party, which controls the National Assembly, blames mismanagement and a policy agenda of nationalisation and state appropriations of companies.

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