Protests in Venezuela: two dead, at least 57 injured and over 400 arrested
Deaths and injuries reported amid "mother of all marches". Protesters express their anger and frustration at an administration that has led the country with the planet’s biggest oil supplies into the world’s deepest economic recession.
Wednesday was a difficult day in Venezuela, a country sunken in a deep social and economic crisis for more than two years.
At least three people were killed and dozens injured and detained in Venezuela as street battles erupted alongside a mass anti-government demonstration that the opposition billed as “the mother of all marches”.
A 17-year-old boy was fatally shot in the head in a neighbourhood of Caracas, while several hours later a woman was killed in gunfire during a rally in the Andean state of Tachira near the Colombian border.
At least one legislator had to be hospitalised, and images posted online showed opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles choking on teargas.
As night fell, a few thousand people were still gathered in a plaza in wealthy eastern Caracas as residents in nearby buildings banged pots and pans in a show of support. A group of youths with their faces covered tore down street signs and billboards for makeshift barricades, as reported in The Guardian. They then launched rocks and Molotov cocktails against lines of police and national guardsmen who responded with tear gas in cat-and-mouse skirmishes.
The situation is not expected to improve today, as demonstrators braced for a possible second round of mass anti-government protests.
"Same place, same time," was the rallying call from Miranda state governor and opposition figurehead Henrique Capriles late on Wednesday evening, calling for millions of Venezuelans to mobilize again a day after what has been widely dubbed as "the mother of all marches."
Anti-government protesters and politicians have accused President Nicolas Maduro of sliding towards dictatorship, while officials in the socialist government have claimed demonstrators were attempting a violent coup d'état, as reported in EFE.
The number of people killed in the political unrest has now risen to eight, including the national guardsman, and thousands of arrests have been made in the space of three weeks.
The protesters came from all walks of life, as reported in The Guardian. Some said they had previously supported the government under Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, but the worsening economic and social crisis had made them march for change. Many of them wan to express their anger and frustration at an administration that has led the country with the planet’s biggest oil supplies into the world’s deepest economic recession.