Venezuela: Violence flares at anti-Maduro motorised protests

Venezuela’s opposition seeks chaos not election to depose Maduro – Constituent Assembly director
Carlos Garcia Rawlins Reuters
Author

15 May, 2017

On May 1, President Nicolas Maduro called for a new Constitution as a means of overcoming the political crisis, and a presidential commission in the process of forming a constituent assembly to draft the document. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has blamed the marches on hostile foreign powers instead and organized counter-protests of supporters to match them.

Protesters also oppose his plans to elect an assembly to overhaul the constitution, dismissing it as a way to put off elections.

Elderly protesters braved pepper spray in scuffles with riot police on Friday as they marched in the latest anti-government protests in Venezuela.

"We will thrash them!" he predicted, though pollsters widely foresee defeat for the ruling Socialist Party at any open vote.

In fresh troubles on Wednesday, police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters who tried to march to the Supreme Court in Caracas. A representative of the office listened briefly to their grievances on the street instead.

Venezuela is in the fourth year of a recession caused by a collapse in crucial oil exports that has led to widespread shortages of basic goods, including food and medicine.

"President Nicolas Maduro is grateful to Doctor Antonieta Caporale for her work", he wrote on Twitter. Opposition leaders joined them, hugging and linking arms with the pensioners.

Luis Emilio Rondon, one of five members of the electoral council and the only one who in the past has sided with opposition initiatives, said Maduro's decree alone was not enough to convoke a constitutional assembly. Many brought chairs, mats and food to last the day.

There were also old people's protests in western Tachira and southern Bolivar states, with those demonstrations able to reach the local headquarters of the ombudsman. According to the study, 756 women died while pregnant or shortly after giving birth in 2016, a 66 percent increase over the previous year.

In downtown Caracas, government supporters also rallied, dancing salsa and waving pictures of Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez who remains venerated by many, especially the poor.

Dozens of mothers dressed in black were out on Caracas's streets yesterday to mark a Mother's Day of protest, hours after violent unrest in the towns of Caja Seca and Pueblo Llano.

Long viewed by many poor Venezuelans as an out-of-touch elite, the opposition now enjoys majority support.


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