Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans march against Maduro


Opposition leaders hoped today's protests would succeed in attracting a broader range of Venezuelans, including those who are angry at the government but may be too intimidated by the threat of violence to march.

Tens of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded the streets of Caracas in what's been.

The demonstrations come after nearly three weeks of anti-government street protests that now have resulted in seven deaths - including one police officer - dozens of injured and more than 500 arrests, of which more than 200 are still in custody, according to the opposition and non-governmental organization Foro Penal Venezolano. Journalists covering the protests reported suffering harassment at the hands of security forces and pro-government supporters, and a TV cable channel that reported on the protests was taken off the air.

Miguel Salomon is president of the Clinicas Caracas hospital. Tens of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded the streets of auto.

Racked by food shortages and political unrest, Venezuela swelled with what organizers are calling the "mother of all protests" on Wednesday.

General Motors announced that it will immediately cease operations in Venezuela after its assets were seized by public authorities. GM has about 2,700 workers in the country, where it's been the market leader for over 35 years. Dozens had to slide down a concrete embankment and into the Guaire River to escape the noxious fumes.

Across the country, the clashes have been intense. Pro-government militias, some of whose members were armed, were blamed for the two deaths, including that of a teenager in Caracas who was heading to a soccer game with friends.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor said she is investigating the Wednesday shooting incident amid conflicting reports over the cause of death. "When they took the young man to (a nearby clinic), the government supporters left".

Demonstrators clash with riot police in Caracas on April 19.

The latest developments followed a fortnight of violent protests, in which five more people have been killed, triggered by a Supreme Court decision in March to assume the powers of the opposition-led Congress. In the tweet, Trump called for Venezuela to release its political prisoners. The government has repeatedly blocked any attempts by the opposition to oust Maduro from power by a referendum vote.

Venezuela has now seen weeks of clashes between demonstrators and the police.

But the government has shown little interest in backing down.

In Western Caracas, red-clad government supporters - some wearing ski masks - were patrolling the streets close to an opposition rallying point.

They were not the first to be felled in the course of the anti-Maduro protests that have been mounting since late last month.

In advance of today's protests, the region's eyes were on Venezuela. It also has 79 dealers that employ 3,900 people, and its parts suppliers make up more than half of Venezuela's auto parts market, the company said. Six people have died and countless others, many journalists, have been injured.

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

Maduro late Tuesday accused the U.S. State Department of trying to promote a military intervention.

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".

Opposition marchers included Liliana Machuca, who earns about $20 a month holding two jobs teaching literature. Although she doesn't expect change overnight, she said protesting is the only option the opposition has after what she says are scores of abuses committed by the government.

"We're going to go on struggling", she said Wednesday, "because the one who tires, loses".

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