Protests Against Venezuela's Socialist President Turn Into Riots

14 April, 2017, 19:12 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Riot police fire tear gas during a rally against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas

Venezuela's opposition is putting up its most determined challenge to President Nicolás Maduro in years, with near-daily protests that are backed by widening global condemnation of the government's authoritarian rule. A 32-year-old man died after being shot and wounded in a demonstration on April 11, becoming the fifth victim in the protests that began nearly two weeks ago.

Opposition leaders announced another round of protests for Thursday this week in the country's more than 300 municipalities.

It comes after days of violent opposition protests in the country's cities in which two people have been killed sparking worldwide condemnation against Maduro's authoritarian rule.

The opposition, which also accuses Maduro of installing a dictatorship, is demanding the authorities set a date for postponed regional elections.

Daniel Queliz was shot in the neck as police broke up protesters who want to remove Maduro from office over a spiraling economic and political crisis.

Amid what the opposition coalition says is a crackdown on dissent, some 43 people were arrested on Tuesday, according to rights group Penal Forum.

Disapproval of Maduro's regime, which had already been high, recently surged after the government-controlled Supreme Court took over the National Assembly at the end of last month.

But it is Venezuela's extended economic crisis that has ordinary people fuming.

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It is also furious over moves to limit the powers of the legislature and ban senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles from politics.

"They had prepared an ambush and the people neutralised it", he said. Officials said Wednesday they were charging two police with killing a 20-year-old college student earlier in the week.

Along with planned opposition marches that have dissolved into clashes, there have also been scattered reports of looting and impromptu nighttime protests, with demonstrators sealing off streets with makeshift barricades of trash or burning debris.

Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro released a new, emphatic video with a message against the "abuses and aggressions" of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro has drawn parallels between his own situation and that of his populist predecessor - the late Hugo Chavez - during a short-lived coup in 2002.

The OAS chief released a four-minute video message on social media Tuesday slamming the Maduro government while painting the opposition protesters, which have repeatedly turned to violence, as peaceful demonstrators. The Government claims this is a part of a sustained capitalist/imperialist conspiracy.

It said 40 people will be charged for "acts of violence" in Monday's unrest.

Major anti-government protests in 2014 eventually fizzled out, though the opposition at the time had nebulous demands, poor neighborhoods largely abstained, and the economy was in better shape.

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