Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Venezuelans gear up for major march against Maduro

Alfredo Watts | 20 April, 2017, 06:19

"They put his arms on his head, said that they would kill him, his family, that they would rape his girlfriend, kill his brother".

Marching on a day marking the beginning of Venezuela's independence movement from Spain in 1810, protesters dressed mainly in white clogged freeways and main thoroughfares across metropolitan Caracas, the capital.

Twin brothers Francisco Jose Sanchez and Francisco Alejandro Sanchez, age 22, were detained on Thursday by Venezuela's intelligence services amid a wave of anti-government unrest.

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have called on Venezuelans to take to the streets for what they've dubbed the "mother of all marches" against the embattled socialist leader.

Authorities have confirmed at least five people were killed during protests last week, as the opposition pushes an agenda that includes calls for an early presidential election and the freeing of jailed political activists. A U.S. state department official has said that they are concerned with the state of Venezuela's democracy and that the country should continue to talk to the opposition as well as hold elections as soon as possible. "We're watching it closely and working with others, particularly through the OAS [Organization of American States] to communicate those concerns to them", Tillerson added in a brief press conference.

Venezuela's opposition says it will stage the "mother of all marches" on Wednesday, accusing President Nicolas Maduro of resorting to dictatorial measures to quash popular outrage over a deepening economic crisis. "I am really anxious about what is going on".

The defense minister vowed the army would show its "fighting spirit ahead of April 19", but said the deployment was "a call to peace". We reject the concocted lies and false accusations meant to demonize government leaders in order to justify interventionist plots such as those attempted by OAS head Luis Almagro.

According to the president, the capture of the armed command was achieved after the search of 300 hotels located in central Caracas, in areas such as Plaza Caracas, Sabana Grande and Plaza Venezuela.

Chavez launched the leftist movement carried on by Maduro, who succeeded him as president in 2013.

In addition to colectivo attacks, police used tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters.

The latest crisis was triggered by last month's Supreme Court decision to officially take over power from the opposition-controlled parliament.

The often fragmented opposition has been galvanized since the Supreme Court's bid to seize legislative powers.

Demonstrators also gathered on Wednesday in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz, home to Venezuela's struggling state-run mining companies, and the oil city of Maracaibo.

The National Socialist Party has ruled Venezuela for 17 years.

Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves, but the fall in global crude prices since 2014 has laid bare its overwhelming dependence on its chief export. The protests also come in response to the deteriorating economic situation in the country with widespread food shortages and increasingly rare medicinal supplies.

"Do not hesitate for a second", he urged Monday.

"We again urge demonstrators to express themselves non-violently", Toner said. "We deplore the use of violence against unarmed protestors", it said. "Whoever wants to see the script written to generate violence, death ... read the statement". He said the plan included distributing rifles to members of a citizen militia to "defend the revolution". Maduro is boosting the number of armed supporters in hopes of keeping control over the country from what he labels "imperialist aggression".