Thou­sands of women protest across coun­try

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

Women banged on pans and some stripped off their white shirts Satur­day as they protested Venezuela’s so­cial­ist govern­ment in an event the op­po­si­tion billed as a “women’s march against repression.”

Lo­cal media car­ried a video show­ing peo­ple top­pling a statue of the late president, Hugo Chávez, the day be­fore in the western state of Zu­lia.

Thou­sands of women took over streets in ma­jor cities. Wear­ing the white shirts of op­po­nents of the coun­try’s in­creas­ingly em­bat­tled govern­ment, the women sang the na­tional an­them and chanted, “Who are we? Venezuela! What do we want? Free­dom!”

Some sported makeshift gear to pro­tect against tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets. Others marched top­less. One woman came in her wed­ding dress.

As they have al­most daily for five weeks, po­lice in riot gear again took con­trol of ma­jor roads in the cap­i­tal. Clashes be­tween po­lice and pro­test­ers have killed about three dozen peo­ple in the past month.

Lo­cal news media car­ried a video cir­cu­lat­ing on Twit­ter of the Chávez statue be­ing pulled down. Media out­lets re­ported that stu­dents de­stroyed the statue as they vented their anger over food short­ages, in­fla­tion and in­creas­ing crime.

Sev­eral young men could be seen bash­ing the statue, which de­picted Chávez stand­ing in a salut­ing pose, as on­look­ers hurled in­sults at the so­cial­ist hero.

De­fense Min­is­ter Vladimir Padrino on Fri­day de­nounced the protest move­ment and said op­po­si­tion “ter­ror­ists” were at­tempt­ing a kind of non­con­ven­tional war­fare.

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