CARACAS (Reuters) – Opposition leader Juan Guaido on Sunday called for Venezuelans to take to the streets on Feb. 12 in peaceful marches against President Nicolas Maduro, as the country’s divided opposition looks ahead to presidential elections.
The opposition considers Maduro’s 2018 re-election to be fraudulent and has in the past held mass marches against his government, some of which have led to deaths.
Maduro’s government “fears the streets, fears organization of the base,” Guaido told journalists after an opposition event held to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the military dictatorship in 1958.
Though the opposition was broadly defeated in regional elections at the end of last year, it notched a win in a governorship re-run in Barinas state, which has traditionally been dominated by the ruling party.
Opposition parties must unite as soon as possible in the face of the presidential contest currently scheduled for 2024, Guaido said during the event.
“We are talking about organizing ourselves from now, we’re talking about a presidential election,” Guaido said.
Dozens of western countries originally supported Guaido as Venezuela’s leader, but since 2021 legislative elections a number of countries and the European Union back him only as a leading opposition figure.
Supporters of an effort to remove Maduro from office through a referendum said this weekend they would ask the country’s top tribunal to review signature collections conditions which the opposition says are unfeasible.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Andrea Ricci)