'Critical chavismo' joins Venezuela strike

Nearly 100 were arretsed across Venezuela in a wave of massive opposition protests Oct. 26. Among those arrested were seven police officers accused of excessive force. Authorities said a total of 86 people were injured nationwide, including 26 police and National Guard troops. National authorities also intervened to remove the head of the police force in the municipality of San Francisco in the western city of Maracaibo, in response to the injury of four opposition protesters. The mobilization was called by the right-wing opposition, in response to the National Electoral Council's temporary suspension of a presidential recall referendum process last week, pending investigations into possible fraudulent signatures. As the protesters approached the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, thousands of Chavistas gathered there in support of President Nicolas Maduro, and a tense face-off ensued.

But several former high officials of the government of late president Hugo Chávez issued a statement saying that the recall vote should move ahead. And a number of dissident left organizations and also joined the protests, proclaiming a new current of "chavismo critico." Their platform demanded an "emergency plan" for meeting the nation's crisis in food and healthcare, greater investment in the public sector to create jobs, a deepening of the agrarian reform program, and a moratorium on foreign debt payments. The manifesto closed with the slogan: "The people are not defeated! Neither bureaucracy nor capital!" (VenezuelAnalysis, Oct. 28; VenezuelAnalysis, Oct. 27; Efecto Cocuyo, Oct. 17)