Tens of thousands of Venezuelans march against government
Tens of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded the streets of Caracas amid confusion and tear gas Wednesday for what they’ve dubbed the “mother of all marches” against the embattled socialist leader.
Clashes between protesters, police and government supporters started early. Shortly after the march kicked off, state security forces fired tear gas at some pockets of protesters. Opposition leaders also said a young man was shot in the head at a protest and rushed to the hospital. Journalists waited outside the clinic for reports on his condition.
At a counter march of government supporters downtown, Energy Minister Luis Motta Dominguez told lines of protesters that reports about the young
man were false. Dominguez said the man had been assaulted, but was on his way back from a soccer game and was not participating in the protests.
He warned supporters that they would have to use all their political tools to keep at bay what he said were the “fascist” opponents of the socialist administration.
“We’re a peaceful people, but we’re also armed,” he said.
Tens of thousands of protesters converged from 26 different points spread across the capital to attempt to march downtown to the Ombudsman’s office. It’s a route tens of thousands of angry protesters have attempted a half-dozen times in the past few weeks only to find their progress blocked by light-armoured vehicles and a curtain of tear gas and rubber bullets fired by riot police officers.
At least five deaths have been blamed on the strong-armed response to protests that were triggered by the government-stacked Supreme Court’s decision three weeks ago to strip the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers after a year-long power battle.
A man walks past a burning motorbike set on fire by protesters during an opposition march in Caracas, Venezuela, yesterday.