Venezuelan right-wing opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles went on national television Wednesday calling on the population to take to the streets to demand a change of government.
Capriles, in an incendiary tone, claimed Venezuela had reached a moment “in which we have to change the government, the perfect moment to change the government, the perfect storm. That is the reality we are facing today.”
Capriles' remarks came after President Nicolas Maduro went on a tour to oil-producing countries last week in a bid to raise global oil prices which have fallen below US$40 per barrel. In Algeria, Maduro warned the opposition was planning a coup.
“The strategy that they are carrying out aims to disrupt civilians and cause extreme situations, that is the key part of their efforts to destabilize the country … an economic coup is also underway in Venezuela,” he told reporters.
Capriles called for people to protest in the streets earlier this week, and several incidents of violence have already been reported throughout the country.
In his closing statements, Capriles again called on the ousting of President Maduro.
“The ideal scenario would be to change the government, that would be the ideal situation,” he said.
President Maduro warned Tuesday from Algeria that the opposition was organizing an economic coup.
“This is designed to unsettle the people and take them to extreme situations, that's the main aim to destabilize the country,” he warned.
Right-wing opposition sectors are intentionally creating shortages in certain consumer products. Recent raids on distributing companies have confirmed that many of them are hoarding products. Their motives seems to be political and with the intention of destabilizing the government, as many of the owners of the companies are linked to, or active members of, opposition parties.
Capriles insisted at the end of the press conference that the only way to change the situation was through organized action.
“This model is unsustainable, it's over. It's time to take action,” he added.
The right-wing former presidential candidate announced he was going to regroup the main opposition alliance, which recently called off a national strike due to miniscule support.
“The Unity (referring to Democratic Unity Table, the main right-wing opposition alliance) will renovate, it will be re-organized … I have a series of actions planned that I will propose to all the parties and leaderships in the next hours … here, whoever plays alone is ruined,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jorge Arreaza explained that the new economic coup attempt would be an alternative to the violent opposition events launched in February 2014.
“What we are seeing coming from the right during the beginning of this year is an economic coup which we will defeat, just as we defeated the violent coup attempt the beginning of last year,” said Arreaza, speaking on public television.
He was referring to a wave of right-wing political violence in 2014 that left 43 people dead. The overwhelming majority were killed by clashes at deliberately-deadly opposition barricades, and as a result of opposition violence.
Capriles himself faced accusations of links to a separate wave of violence in 2013 after his unsuccessful presidential bid. That violence left 13 government supporters dead after Capriles told supporters “to vent your anger” at his loss.