Venezuela Protesters Clash With Police
Street protests in Venezuela over high inflation and a shortage of basic goods show no sign of ending, as supporters and opponents of the country’s president gathered for rival rallies.
It was the 12th straight day of demonstrations that have so far killed three people and caused growing concern in Latin America and the US.
At least 23 anti-government protesters were wounded in the Caracas neighbourhood of Chacao when riot police used tear gas, fired buckshot shells and deployed water cannon to break up the protest, according to mayor Ramon Muchacho.
Around 3,000 government opponents, mostly students dressed in white and wrapped in Venezuelan flags, had earlier gathered there and spread out into nearby streets.
“Before, we would not go out on the street because of violent crime,” university student Isaac Castillo said.
“Now, we go out to protest – and they kill us. We young people have no faith, no hope.
“There are no jobs and even if we get one, it is not enough to make a decent living.”
President Nicolas Maduro has said the protests signal the beginning of a coup to depose him. They are the biggest challenge to Mr Maduro since he was elected in 2013 after the death from cancer of former leader Hugo Chavez.
High crime, rising prices and a lack of essentials like toilet paper are among the demonstrators’ grievances in a country where inflation is more than 50%.
They are also demanding the release of around 100 students and other opposition activists, and an end to what they say is police repression.
In the US, dozens of activists, many of them young and dressed in the colours of the Venezuelan flag, rallied in front of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington waving banners.
A handful of pro-government demonstrators held banners at the embassy gates.
In downtown Caracas, government supporters dressed in the bright red that symbolises the leftist movement of Mr Chavez and Mr Maduro, filled several plazas.
Some danced to drums being played by fellow demonstrators, while others unfurled flags and pictures.
Mr Maduro unveiled a 10-point plan to try and quell the unrest on Friday, including disarming the population, increasing police patrols and “clear rules for television”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said reports anti-government protesters were being arrested would “have a chilling effect on citizens’ rights to express their grievances peacefully” and called for cooperation to resolve the unrest.