Unions extend general strike in Venezuela


Venezuela’s largest union has announced it will extend its 48-hour general strike indefinitely amid accusations from the ruling party that unions are attempting to overthrow the government.

Mr Carlos Ortega, president of the 1 million-member Venezuelan Workers Confederation (CTV), cited "reprisals" by President Mr Hugo Chavez's government involving some "actions in the street" as reason for the extension.

Vice President Mr Diosdado Cabello planned to meet Petroleos de Venezuela executives today, it was reported. But a spokesman for the dissident workers said they had heard nothing of the meeting.

"It's a matter of a simple demand by small businessmen and civil society that the country find fundamental solutions to a profound crisis that involves not only economic and petroleum issues, but the political conduct of the nation," Mr Carmona said.

He also urged the armed forces not to allow themselves to be politicised.

Defense Minister Mr Jose Vicente Rangel called the decision "insurrectionist" and said the CTV and Fedecamaras were "jumping into the void" because Mr Chavez won't be overthrown. He urged Venezuelans to ignore the strike call.