Venezuela crisis: Opposition holds 'mother of all protests'

Army declares loyalty to Maduro as Venezuela braces for giant demo

On Monday 11 Latin American countries, including Mercosur and Mexico, called on Venezuela's government to respect the constitutional right to peaceful protest.

Speaking on state television on Tuesday evening, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro fired back at the Trump administration, accusing it of promoting regime change in the South American nation. This year, on March 29, Venezuela's Supreme Court took a more blatant step for total power.

AT LEAST three people were killed and dozens injured in Venezuela as hundreds of thousands of protesters hit the streets to denounce President Nicolas Maduro.

"Today the people stood by Maduro!" the president said, blasting his rivals as "anti-Christs".

In many cases protests have ended with youths throwing rocks squaring off against security forces spraying tear gas in melees that have dragged on well into the evening.

Vladimir Padrino Lopez made the comment on Monday before thousands of pro-Maduro militia members at a rally outside the presidential palace, where the president thanked the army and civilian backers for their support.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor said she is investigating the Wednesday shooting incident amid conflicting reports over the cause of death.

"The great Chavista mobilization toward Caracas has begun", wrote Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello on Twitter, referring to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Pressure on Maduro has increased as falling prices for Venezuela's crucial oil exports have aggravated an economic crisis, creating severe shortages of food and medicine in the state-led economy.

The center-right opposition has called for the military - a pillar of Maduro's power - to abandon him.

Opposition leaders urged demonstrators to remain out on the streets despite the heavy police tear gas assault against them.


A man holds a poster reading "I don't want to live in fear anymore" during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas on April 19, 2017. The hour has arrived to decide the future and the destiny of our country. "We are at a crucial moment in the destiny of our nation". Moreno was shot in the head, they said.

Non-government rights group Provea said the woman died "in the context of the demonstrations".

"We're a peaceful people, but we're also armed", Energy Minister Luis Motta Dominguez told state workers gathering for Wednesday's rally.

"By that, I mean delinquents, gangs that act with total impunity and intimidate citizens, with power to shoot and make arrests". The opposition blames the deaths on security forces and alleged paramilitary groups.

Maduro rejected the statement, saying the State Department had, in essence, announced a coup against Venezuela.

As has become common in recent weeks on protest days, Venezuelan authorities will close 27 metro stations and likely set up checkpoints to slow entry to the city.

But a Supreme Court decision in March to assume the powers of the opposition-led Congress sparked a wave of protests that have not ebbed, even though the court has partly reversed the measure in the face of worldwide condemnation.

The court partly backtracked after an global outcry, but the tension only increased when authorities slapped a political ban on opposition leader Henrique Capriles on April 7.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed concerns to reporters Wednesday that the "government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people".

This post was syndicated from Breaking News, Nigeria News and World News - The Guardian Nigeria.

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