Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido held talks with public sector unions on Tuesday about staging strikes to help bring down the Nicolas Maduro government, Reuters reports.
“The moment has come and our call, our request, and our complete support for public employees, is to bring about this strike,” Guaido was quoted as saying after meeting with state workers in Caracas.
“It’s a proposal from the workers, that they aren’t going to keep collaborating with the regime,” Guaido said following his triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday to press for an end to Maduro’s rule.
Union leaders for state telecoms firm Cantv, national power company Corpoelec, and the foreign ministry told Reuters they would join a public sector strike.
Guaido said the strikes would be staggered and aim to paralyze the public sector. He has called on state officials, who have been historically pressured by the ruling Socialist Party to publicly back Maduro, to disavow the government, and has promised future amnesties for those that do.
Guaido flouted a travel ban to tour Latin American countries to muster support for his plan for a transition government ahead of free and fair elections.
“They thought the pressure had already maxed out,” said Guaido, who is recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.
“They better know that the pressure has barely begun,” he told a news conference in Caracas.
Maduro, meanwhile, said he will not allow “anything or anyone to disrupt the peace.”
The president called for “anti-imperialist” demonstrations across the country on Saturday, coinciding with marches called by Guaido.
“The crazed minority continues in their bitterness. We are going to defeat them, be absolutely sure,” Maduro said during a ceremony to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Guaido had secretly left Venezuela for Colombia, in violation of a Supreme Court order, to coordinate efforts there on Feb. 23 to send aid into Venezuela.
While Guaido had publicly speculated that authorities would detain him when he returned, he passed through Caracas’ international airport without a problem.
He then sped to a march where he mocked the government for letting him in so easily, telling the crowd: “Somebody didn’t follow an order.”
Maduro accuses Guaido of leading a coup, orchestrated by the US government, and has said he will “face justice.”