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Violence flares once more in Venezuela


Venezuela

Violence flares once more in Venezuela

Opposition supporters have once more taken to the streets in Venezuela to protest about the country’s grave economic crisis.

It is the first sustained wave of anti-government demonstrations in three years.

Four nationwide protests in the last 10 days have degenerated into clashes between youths throwing stones and security forces spraying crowds with tear gas.

There have been protests in several cities.

Why are they angry?

Because of shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation.

People have been protesting for months, but demonstrations ebbed amid protester fatigue.

However, a Supreme Court decision in late March to assume the functions of the opposition-led Congress sparked an outcry.

What happened?

The court quickly overturned the most controversial part of its decision. However, it had already triggered condemnation at home and abroad.

This was compounded on Friday by news that the popular opposition politician Henrique Capriles, who is seen as the opposition’s best hope in the presidential election slated for next year, has been banned from office for 15 years.

Have there been any arrests?

Yes. At least 188 protesters, most of them students, were arrested between April 4th and 8th. 57 are still behind bars, according to the rights group Penal Forum.

Nine people, including two teenagers, were arrested for breaking into an office of the Supreme Court and vandalising it at the end of Saturday’s march.

A 19-year-old was shot dead in violence around the protests on Thursday.

What the government says

Nicolas Maduro’s unpopular government accuses the opposition of fomenting violence to lay the ground for a foreign invasion.

Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, travelled to ally Cuba on Sunday for a meeting of the leftist ALBA bloc.

What does the opposition want?

A date to be set for governor elections, which were meant to be held last year.

They are also calling for early presidential elections.

What they are saying

“It’s working, the government is scared and making mistakes like banning Capriles, because that generates more support for him,” said 66-year-old protester Imelda Guerrero in Caracas. “But this will be a long struggle, it is only just starting.”

“The lazy one has gone to Cuba on holiday, he would do the country a favour by staying there,” Henrique Capriles jibed at Maduro on Twitter.

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