On Tuesday, the opposition’s Arise Venezuela coalition published what it called a “declaration of war” against the Maduro regime and announced plans to hold a direct presidential election as early as the middle of July. The statement, which the coalition said was a “non-aggression document” aimed at guaranteeing peace and political transition, comes amid a government crackdown on opposition. Critics have charged that the president’s electoral council has actually worked with the Maduro government to intentionally undermine the opposition’s election chances.
While individual opposition leaders have tried to distance themselves from the declaration, it’s certainly supported by the major opposition parties, who have all accepted a “unity government” to represent the opposition on the international stage. Even the president of Venezuela’s interior ministry, Tareck El Aissami, stated his support.
“I believe it’s necessary to spread peace and to withdraw our efforts to prosecute [the opposition leaders] so that a true democratic transition can take place in our country,” he said. “There are thousands and thousands of pro-democracy forces … and they want to end the impunity of the corruptes among them.”
The opposition’s announcement also comes in the context of mounting international pressure to oust Maduro. The United States said on April 23 that it would take a more active role in Venezuela, and the European Union has said that the result of its upcoming foreign ministers’ meeting on Venezuela will determine whether the government in Caracas falls.
A coalition of Latin American nations has suggested that the United States consider imposing an oil embargo to hurt the Maduro government and force it to relinquish power. U.S. President Donald Trump has also announced plans to increase pressure on the government.