CARACAS, Venezuela – From his home in Caracas, Leopoldo López released his first public video since Venezuelan authorities released him to house arrest earlier this month.
The former mayor of Cachao, who was convicted of inciting violence during 2014 protests against President Nicolas Maduro, asked Venezuelans to support a 48-hour general strike and the Venezuelan military to rebel against orders to work during Sunday's election.
The election is meant to place loyalists on a constituent assembly that Maduro will entrust with the task of rewriting the constitution.
"In mind, spirit and conviction, I have accompanied you in this fight on the streets," López, 46, said in the 15-minute video. "And you all know that if I could, I would physically be at the front."
The video comes during nearly four months of protests that began when the Supreme Court justices loyal to Maduro decided to take powers away from Congress. The court reversed the decision, but the protests linked to at least 100 deaths continued.
"We are on the brink of their trying to annihilate the republic that you swore to defend. I ask you not to become accomplices in the annihilation of the republic," López said.
After the National Assembly appointed justices to an alternate Supreme Court, Venezuelan authorities arrested Ángel Zerpa, one of the appointees. He began a hunger strike on Wednesday.
After the two-day strike, protesters are planning a Friday "takeover of Caracas."
Local 10 News Andrea Torres contributed to this report from Miami.
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