2 killed amid massive anti-government marches in Venezuela

Jay Jacobs
April 20, 2017

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's opposition is looking to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro by taking to the streets again Thursday hours after at least two people were killed and hundreds arrested in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in years.

Maduro supporters held a counter-demonstration at the urging of the president. Although he was rushed to hospital, he died of his injuries a short time later. The government last year abruptly postponed regional elections the opposition was heavily favored to win and cut off a petition drive to force a referendum seeking Maduro's removal before elections late next year.

Later on Wednesday in the opposition hotbed of San Cristobal near the Colombia border, university student Paola Ramirez died after being shot by men pursuing her and her boyfriend, according to relatives and witnesses.

Waving the country's red yellow and blue flags and shouting "No more dictatorship" and "Maduro out", tens of thousands of protesters converged from 26 different points spread across Caracas to attempt to march downtown to the Ombudsman's office.

He said the opposition did not only stage protests in the east of the city, as it normally does, but also in typically pro-government western areas.

The demonstrations erupted after the Venezuelan Supreme Court's March 30 announcement that it would strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its legislative powers. Pope Francis sent an envoy to Caracas to mediate talks between the opposition and the government in 2016.

Analysts say there is less likelihood of a coup against Maduro because Chavez launched a broad purge of the armed forces following his brief ouster.Some unhappy Venezuelans also steer clear of protests, fearful of violence, cynical that marches can bring about change, or too busy looking for food amid the recession.

Members of the Organization of American States have also criticized what they view as Venezuela's turn toward authoritarianism. "If we were millions today, tomorrow we'll be more".

How a McDonald's drive-thru employee helped stop Facebook killer
In several posts, he claimed to have killed as many as a dozen people, but police have not found evidence to support that claim. Police received more than 400 tips in what became a nationwide search, with some tips coming from as far away as Texas.

This decision was reversed three days later after global condemnation forced its hand.

"I participate in these protests, out of a sense of responsibility for being Venezuelan". I love this land that gave me education, work and well-being.

"We are extremely concerned that Rosneft's control of a major U.S. energy supplier could pose a grave threat to American energy security", the six senators wrote in an April 4 letter to the U.S. Treasury secretary.

The president's foes are calling for new elections, the release of political prisoners and an end to autocratic abuses of Venezuelan institutions. While analysts are getting anxious about what they see as increasingly distressed payments, some investors are betting on the country's "surreal" ability to pay and keep inking new deals with Caracas.

On Tuesday, the center-right opposition repeated its call for the military - a pillar of Maduro's power - to abandon him.

There are few clear ways of identifying colectivos, who call themselves community groups but whom the opposition accuses of being violent paramilitary wings of the ruling Socialist Party.

"We were on a motorbike and they were following us, shooting", her boyfriend told Reuters. Maduro's forces have previously barred protesters from the government stronghold with rubber pellets and armored vehicles. What is happening today should only be further evidence that there is an urgent need for strong global pressure to push for the restoration of human rights and democracy in Venezuela - and that the potential cost and risk of not exercising such pressure is rapidly increasing.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

Discuss This Article