Venezuela’s Maduro, foes head into crucial showdown

FILE - In this June 24, 2017 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, talks to his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez during Army Day celebrations at Fuerte Tiuna, in Caracas, Venezuela. Padrino Lopez challenged on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 the countries that have declared against the government's initiative to rewrite Venezuela's constitution, saying the nation will not submit to foreign governments. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his opponents face a crucial showdown as the country’s oppositions calls the first national strike since 2002 stoppage that failed to topple Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Fifteen years later, Chavez’s socialist party controls vast swathes of the economy, making it harder to bring the country to a halt. Easing the opposition’s task is the fact that much of the economy is already faltering, hamstrung by a plunge in oil prices and years of corruption and mismanagement.

The 24-hour strike Thursday is meant as an expression of disapproval of Maduro’s plan to convene a constitutional assembly that would reshape the Venezuelan system to consolidate the ruling party’s power over the few institutions that remain outside its control.

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