Demonstrations by thousands of Venezuelan students against planned changes to the constitution turned violent when they clashed with small groups of pro-Hugo Chavez supporters. Anti-riot police then moved in with tear gas. The president’s proposals will be put to a referendum in December. He plans to cut the limits on the number of times someone can stand as head of state and to allow security forces to detain people without charges during so-called political emergencies.
This protester said: “We are marching against constitutional reform. There are too many articles that we do not agree with, especially the article that says nobody has the right to study what they want and instead everyone has to study what is convenient for the country at that time.”
The constitutional rewrite also includes popular moves such as shortening the workday and extending social security benefits to street vendors. In favour for spending oil money on free health and educational programmes for the poor, Chavez is expected to win the end-of-year poll.