Venezuela once more in the grip of protests

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Venezuela once more in the grip of protests

More clashes have broken out in Caracas as daily protests against the president descended into chaos.

Tear gas was fired as demonstrators ran for cover. A bus was set on fire.

What has the president said?

Speaking at a political rally, Nicolas Maduro blamed the head of the opposition-led National Assembly for all the violence.

He says the demonstrations amount to a violent effort to overthrow him.

The 54-year-old former bus driver says his opponents are seeking a coup with the support of the United States and encouragement of international media.

What has the opposition said?

They accuse Maduro of breaking up the protests violently.

Describing Maduro as a dictator who has wrecked the OPEC nation’s economy, they are seeking fresh elections, foreign humanitarian aid, freedom for hundreds of jailed activists and autonomy for the opposition-controlled legislature.

How long have the protests been going on?

Six weeks. Driven by anger over the country’s brutal economic crisis, they have left nearly 40 people dead.