But Maduro and his supporters blame foreign interference. Critics say the assembly, whose election rules appear created to ensure a majority for Maduro, is meant to institutionalize dictatorship in the South American nation, a member of OPEC.
The Democratic Unity coalition has raised the stakes by calling a two-day national strike for Wednesday and Thursday, after millions participated in a 24-hour shutdown last week.
Also on Saturday, the government's intelligence service arrested lawyer Angel Zerpa, one of 13 people sworn in as Supreme Court magistrates by the opposition in defiance of the government. Venezuelans' preferred option is to move ahead peacefully, along the lines proposed past year by the Vatican, which called for early presidential elections, a more autonomous parliament, and other measures.
The Venezuelan government has come under increased national pressure ahead of elections for the National Constituent Assembly on July 30. And under no circumstance should the United States intervene directly against Maduro's government.
In the last five years, the left tide in Latin America has ebbed and many governments have been changed through elections like Argentina but in Brazil, the USA conspired with the right forces to remove Dilma Rousseff from the president's position through a constitutional coup and they are now trying to keep the unelected President Temer in that position despite big corruption charges.
But the government is showing no sign of backing down, announcing that it will put 232,000 soldiers on the streets to protect voters.
Earlier at the protests in Caracas, National Guard forces could be seen firing tear gas canisters horizontally at demonstrators in contravention of global norms.
Maduro had threatened to arrest the judges in a televised speech over the weekend, during which he also verbally attacked U.S. President Donald Trump and several Latin American leaders for their statements against Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution.
Many Venezuelans were stocking up on food today in anticipation of closed shops and trouble, exacerbating already bulging lines at supermarkets and ATMS.
Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, the Washington-based organization tasked with defending democracy in the hemisphere, said Tuesday he was designating a former prosecutor with the International Criminal Court to investigate the situation in Venezuela and help decide a course of action.
Officials have said it would immediately replace the existing National Assembly legislature where the opposition won a majority in 2015 elections.
Foes say that will institutionalise dictatorship by the ruling Socialist Party.