Tuesday, 19 September, 2017

Cash-strapped Venezuela a major funder of Trump inauguration

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Melinda Barton | 21 April, 2017, 19:01

Opposition leaders also said a young man was shot in the head and rushed to the hospital.

An injured demonstrator is helped during protests in Caracas on April 19.

This new wave of protests began early this month after the pro-government Supreme Court tried to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress - only backtracking amid worldwide pressure. Energy Minister Luis Motta Dominguez said the boy was killed during an attempted assault.

Tens of thousands of protesters converged from 26 different points spread across the capital to attempt to march downtown to the Ombudsman's office. In some areas, caravans of government supporters, some of them armed, circled menacingly on motorcycles.

That move was later reversed amid overwhelming worldwide rebuke and even a rare instance of public dissent in the normally disciplined ruling elite.

Opponents are pushing for Maduro's removal through early elections and the release of dozens of political prisoners.

Opposition marchers included Liliana Machuca, who earns about $20 a month holding two jobs teaching literature. A group of youths with their faces covered tore down street signs and billboards for makeshift barricades.

Diosdado Cabello, a pro-government congressman, said in a conference aired by state-run channel this Wednesday night that if the opposition keeps attempting to perform a coup on the government, the government will take "irreversible" measures to remain in power, which could mean that they'd admit a dictatorship.

"We were on a motorbike, and they were following us, shooting", said her boyfriend, according to Reuters.

He's expected to address supporters at a rival march.

They included state workers like Leidy Marquez, who was bused in from Tachira state on the other side of teh country.

The protests and riots are a result of Maduro's abuse of goverment power causing Venezuela's economy to crash, leading to massive shortages of food, medicine, and everyday necessities.

The opposition says Maduro made it clear to the world he was a dictator when the Supreme Court in late March assumed the functions of the opposition-led Congress.

State Department Mark Toner says USA officials are reviewing the details of an nearly 20-year-old lawsuit that led the Venezuelan government to seize a General Motors factory in the South American country. He also said authorities in recent hours had rounded up unnamed members of an underground cell of conspirators at Caracas hotels, including some who were allegedly planning to stir up violence at the march. After the CNE quashed an effort to hold a recall referendum on Maduro's presidency in the fall of 2016, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that these elections might be postponed indefinitely or at least until a sufficient number of opposition parties fail to meet the requirements for renewal.

Vicente Paez, a local councilman, said Guitan was an employee of a Caracas-area city governed by an opposition mayor and didn't partake in the protests.

Foreign governments are also warning about the increasingly bellicose rhetoric and repressive stance of the government.

Tillerson says the U.S.is watching the situation closely and is working with others, particularly through the Organization of American States, to communicate its concerns to Venezuela.

General Motors announced early Thursday that it was closing its operations in Venezuela after authorities seized its factory in the industrial city of Valencia, a move that could draw the Trump administration into the escalating chaos engulfing the nation.

The president in turn has urged his supporters, the military, and civilian militias to defend the socialist "revolution" launched by his predecessor Hugo Chavez in 1999.