At least three people have been killed and dozens injured in Venezuela as street battles erupted alongside a mass anti-government demonstration that the opposition billed as “the mother of all marches.
This is reported by The Guardian
Wednesday’s deaths brought the total number of deaths at protests this month
Fears of bloodshed had been stoked after President Nicolás Maduro put troops on the streets, supplied guns to sympathetic civil militias and called for a simultaneous rally of his supporters against what he said was a United States-backed coup.
But their numbers were far exceeded by the tens of thousands who joined protests across Venezuela to express their anger and frustration at an administration that has led the country with the planet’s biggest oil supplies into the world’s deepest economic recession.
Banners reading “No more dictatorship” highlighted the steady erosion of democracy. In the past month, the supreme court attempted to circumvent Congress’s legislative powers – a power grab which was subsequently reversed, while opposition figurehead Capriles was banned from running for office for 15 years.
Many targeted the Venezuelan president, who is blamed for high inflation and the chronic shortages of food, medicine, and other basic goods. The chant “Esta es la ruta para salir del hijueputa” (“This is the way to oust the son of a bitch”) echoed repeatedly around the downtown district.
The protesters came from all walks of life. Some said they had previously supported the government under Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, but the worsening economic and social crisis had made them march for change.
Foro Penal, an NGO that tracks human rights abuses, said that at least 24 people had been detained in connection with the demonstration.
Eleven countries from the Organisation of American States have jointly called on all sides to remain peaceful and urged the government to call new elections.