Ahead of the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition's "Taking of Caracas" protest on Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's regime is accused political intimidation after carrying out arrests and prohibiting transport. Maduro's administration has said Thursday's protest is a coup d'etat attempt facilitated by the United States. Photo courtesy of Democratic Unity Roundtable
CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The Venezuelan opposition has accused President Nicolas Maduro's regime of political intimidation for carrying out arrests and prohibiting transport ahead of a planned protests in Caracas.
In Venezuela's Táchira state, at least 120 people were not allowed to leave on a private charter bus because Venezuela's Ministry of Transportation did not authorize the trip on Tuesday.
Gustavo Gandica, secretary general of the Justice First Táchira opposition party, said the Maduro administration's decision to "not to let us travel to Caracas is a sign of the fear that this government has that people speak in the streets."
Gandica vowed to reach Caracas for the opposition's demonstration, the "Taking of Caracas" protest.
In the Zulia state's capital of Maracaibo -- Venezuela's second-largest city -- the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition organized about 10,000 people to travel to Caracas. In Maracaibo's bus terminal, tickets to Caracas were no longer being sold. The police presence at the terminal has increased and people attempting to travel for the protest have been intimidated by authorities, El Pitazo reported.
The opposition has accused the Maduro regime of arresting its members for political reasons ahead of the protest, including the recent arrests of opposition activist Yon Goicoechea and Daniel Ceballos, the former mayor of San Cristobal.
Venezuela's National Union of Press Workers on Monday said that three Al Jazeera journalists sent to report about the demonstration were detained and were set to be deported back to the country from which they arrived, Colombia.
The opposition says the Maduro administration's recent decree to ban private aircraft and drones until Monday is an attempt to prevent the recording of the visual impact of the opposition's protest. The opposition vowed that millions of people would take to the streets of Caracas.
"The 'Taking of Caracas' will be the beginning of a new era of mass demonstrations," opposition leader Tomás Guanipa said, adding that the government "is desperate to avoid" so many people gathering in Caracas.
Opposition leaders have stressed that Thursday's demonstration will be peaceful but Interior and Justice Minister Gen. Nestor Reverol -- who was recently indicted in the United States on cocaine trafficking charges -- said government intelligence suggests there could be acts of "violence and destabilization."
Reverol has authorized security personnel to use weapons and toxic substances, such as tear gas, to repel violent protesters in order to assume the "constitutional responsibility to defend and protect the people."
Maduro's administration has said Thursday's protest is a coup d'etat attempt facilitated by the United States.