Venezuelan opposition urges pressure

CARACAS — A leader of the Venezuelan opposition called Monday for citizens to begin organizing committees that could sustain the pressure that continuing street protests have placed on the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles announced the effort via Twitter, directing people to a blog post that laid out plans for what has been called popular defense committees. In an apparent effort to organize and expand the opposition base, he said politics would be set aside, but that could be difficult in a country so polarized.

Venezuela faces inflation that reached 56 percent last year, shortages of basic commodities, and one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world.


‘‘Leave aside the political agenda and violence which the government wants to draw us into, so that we can concentrate on the social problems that affect all of us,’’ Capriles’s statement said. The objective is to create a ‘‘great social movement’’ to press for change in the country.

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The groups could begin with as few as three people: a coordinator, a logistics chief, and someone in charge of publicity. Each of those members would be asked to get 10 more to join.

The groups would meet to discuss problems in their community and potential solutions.

The protests have so far been mostly concentrated in middle-class neighborhoods, including thousands who took to the streets on Sunday.

Associated Press