- Title: Enraged Venezuela opposition escalates anti-Maduro protests
- Date: 26th October 2016
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (OCTOBER 26, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS PROFANITY*** VARIOUS OF OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATORS VARIOUS OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT, HENRY RAMOS ALLUP, ARRIVING TO DEMO VARIOUS OF OPPOSITION DEMO VARIOUS OF OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATORS CHANTING (UNINTELLIGIBLE) (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) OPPOSITION LEADER, HENRIQUE CAPRILES, SAYING: "I tell the one who is in Miraflores to restore constitutional order and end the coup d'etat in our Venezuela and restore the fundamental rights or on November 3 all the people of Venezuela will come to Caracas because we are for Venezuela." OPPOSITION PROTESTERS CHANTING (UNINTELLIGIBLE) PROTESTER HOLDING SIGN READING: "I SHIT ON THE DIALOGUE AND ON THE REVOLUTION" GENERAL VIEW OF OPPOSITION PROTEST SIGN READING: "TRIAL FOR MADURO" VARIOUS OF LILIAN TINTORI, WIFE OF JAILED OPPOSITION LEADER LEOPOLDO LOPEZ, WAVING FLAG DURING DEMO VARIOUS OF POLICE WATCHING DEMO PROTESTERS TALKING TO POLICE VARIOUS OF NATIONAL GUARD WATCHING DEMO
- Embargoed: 10th November 2016 20:09
- Keywords: Venezuela crisis political President Nicolas Maduro Henrique Capriles crisis
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00155N92KN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS PROFANITY
Venezuela's increasingly militant opposition stepped up its push to remove leftist leader Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday (October 26) with rallies that drew hundreds of thousands of protesters and calls for a general strike and march on the presidential palace.
Enraged by last week's suspension of their push for a referendum to remove Maduro and determined to end 17 years of socialism in the South American OPEC nation, Venezuela's opposition has sharply ramped up its tactics in recent days.
Maduro, the unpopular 53-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez who has presided over an unprecedented economic crisis, accuses the opposition of seeking a coup with U.S. help.
After launching a political trial against Maduro on Tuesday in the National Assembly, the opposition coalition held nationwide marches dubbed "Takeover of Venezuela" on Wednesday.
"This government is going to fall!" crowds chanted, many wearing white and waving national flags as they filled one of Caracas' main highways.
Protesters clashed with security forces in several cities across Venezuela, including the volatile western town of San Cristobal that was an epicenter of violence during 2014 anti-Maduro protests. Opposition leaders said there were dozens of injured, with two protesters reportedly struck by bullets in the Western city of Maracaibo near Colombia. Both were hospitalized and expected to recover.
Coalition leaders called for a national strike for Friday, and a Nov. 3 march to the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, unless the election board allows the referendum.
"I tell the one who is in Miraflores to restore constitutional order and end the coup d'etat in our Venezuela and restore the fundamental rights or on November 3 all the people of Venezuela will come to Caracas because we are for Venezuela," said opposition leader, Henrique Capriles.
Despite sitting on the world's biggest oil reserves, Venezuela is in the throes of a punishing recession that has many poor families skipping meals amid scarce food and triple-digit inflation.
Foes say Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader who narrowly won election after Chavez's death in 2013, is an incompetent autocrat who is to blame for the economic problems.
Maduro says low oil prices and a U.S.-led "economic war" against him are responsible for the recession, and has vowed to stand firm. He laid blame to the opposition.
"What we are imposing on Venezuelans is dialogue, peace, justice and there, those who call for violence and have legal responsibilities that they may have or have not assumed, that they face the country, that they ask forgiveness, that they recognize the victims, that they accompany the reparation of the victims and that that those of justice will be wise to seek peace," he said.
In apparent tactics to impede the opposition demonstrations, authorities set up roadblocks and closed some underground metro stations in Caracas. Reuters journalists in several cities reported big crowds at the opposition rallies, especially in the capital, collectively numbering hundreds of thousands.
Wary of trouble, many businesses stayed shut and some parents kept children away from school.
With Venezuela's key oil sector under government control and the economy in a tailspin anyway, the opposition's planned strike would be unlikely to have a major financial effect on the country.
Opposition protests two years ago led to 43 deaths, including among security officials and government and opposition supporters. As a result, some Venezuelans are wary of demonstrations or see them as futile.
Venezuela's poor have to prioritize the all-consuming task of finding affordable food, while many remain skeptical of the opposition, which has a reputation for elitism and whose internal squabbles have for years been a boon for "Chavismo."
Maduro convened a special Committee for the Defense of the Nation at the presidential palace to analyze the National Assembly's actions against him and a tentatively scheduled dialogue with the opposition this weekend.
National Assembly head Henry Ramos, a veteran politician who swaps insults with Maduro almost daily, declined an invitation to attend. "Here's his chair, empty again," said Maduro, urging participation in talks supported by the Vatican, regional bloc Unasur and various ex-heads of state.
Opposition leaders, however, said they would not attend talks until the government allowed the referendum process to continue.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None