Boy, 17, killed in Venezuela mass protests

Nick Mcbride
April 21, 2017

A woman of 23 was shot dead in western Venezuela on Wednesday, the second person killed during a day of anti-government protests, prosecutors and a non-governmental group said.

The protest followed a fortnight of violent protests, in which five people have been killed, triggered by a Supreme Court decision in March to assume the powers of the opposition-led Congress - which it quickly reversed under worldwide pressure.

US President Donald Trump has not said much publicly about the crisis in Venezuela.

The opposition will congregate at more than two dozen meeting points around Caracas and attempt to converge on the office of the state ombudsman, a guarantor of human rights.

In addition to colectivo attacks, police used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters.

That move was later reversed amid overwhelming global rebuke and even a rare instance of public dissent in the normally disciplined ruling elite. The opposition denies that assertion, saying it is Maduro himself who is responsible for Venezuela's woes, including triple-digit inflation, rising crime and food shortages.

Mr Maduro's opponents are pushing for his removal through early elections and the release of scores of political prisoners. Soldiers sprayed demonstrators with tear gas and one student was shot and killed when a fight broke out between the demonstrators and pro-government forces.

Opposition marchers included Liliana Machuca, who earns about $20 a month holding two jobs teaching literature.

"The aim of these protests is to generate a definitive change of government and institutions", protester Eduard Grosse told Al Jazeera.

She says: "This is like a chess game and each side is moving whatever pieces they can. we'll see who tires out first".

Opposition demonstrators clash with riot police officers during a protest against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the capital, Caracas. "We're fed up. We want elections to get Maduro out, because he's destroyed this country", said protester Ingrid Chacon, a 54-year-old secretary. Today's protests unfolded amid explosive tensions, in a country where security forces have brutally repressed anti-government demonstrations, sometimes in collaboration with armed pro-government groups.

Wednesday's protests came a day after Maduro signed orders to launch a new phase of what he called US -backed plans to destabilize his government and overthrow him. He also said authorities in recent hours had rounded up unnamed members of an underground cell of conspirators at Caracas hotels, including some armed people who were allegedly planning to stir up violence at the march.

PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO, Venezuela (through interpreter): The time for combat has arrived, my fellow patriots. The opposition sees the government measures as turning Venezuela into a almost full-blown dictatorship. We will always be committed to peaceful instruments, the democratic ways, to resolve our differences with the opposition, despite its coup intentions and its violent behavior, he said.

He has also warned that an opposition government would slash social benefits like healthcare for the poor and subsidized food. GM called the move an illegal judicial seizure of its assets.

Maduro said he hopes to expand the number of civilians involved in the Bolivarian militias created by the late Hugo Chavez to 500,000, up from the current 100,000, and provide each member with a gun.

There was also concern that Wednesday's duelling marches could lead to clashes after the No. 2 socialist leader, Diosdado Cabello, said 60,000 die-hard government supporters would circulate on motorcycles to prevent the opposition from reaching its planned destination.

Other reports by VgToday

Discuss This Article