Anti-government protest enters second day in Venezuela

At least 11 people were killed in violent incidents in Caracas overnight, Venezuela's justice ministry said on Friday, following two days of mass street protests against President Nicolas Maduro. Local media reported looting and street clashes with security forces in poor areas of Caracas late on Thursday and early Friday.

Riot police and pro-government vigilantes fought running battles with protesters demanding the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro on the capital's east, west and south sides, witnesses said. They were met by tear gas and rubber bullets as they tried to march to downtown Caracas.

"I would suspect GM is not the first and they're not going to be the last because the government of Venezuela is desperate for any assets they can take", Peter Quinter, chair of law firm GrayRobinson's Customs and International Trade Law Group, told the Detroit Free Press.

A woman is aided by fellow demonstrators after falling, overcome by tear gas, during anti-government protests in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Overall, at least 20 people have been killed in the unrest that erupted after the government-stacked Supreme Court gutted congress of its last vestiges of power three weeks ago - a move later reversed amid a storm of global criticism.

Faced with public protest, a shriveled economy, and an worldwide consensus that Venezuela is no longer a free country, one might have expected Maduro to slink out of Venezuela under an assumed name, disguised as the overfed carnival barker he so closely resembles. It wasn't clear who shot him and there was no immediate comment from authorities.

Government officials dismiss the protests, characterized by street barricades and clashes with security forces, as violent and lawless efforts to overthrow Maduro's leftist government with the backing of ideological adversaries in Washington.

The right-wing opposition, however, has called for more street protests over the weekend to culminate in a major event on Monday. "The country is calm", said Freddy Bernal, a party leader. The opposition has asked protestors to honor the victims on Saturday by dressing in white and marching in silence.

The generous oil-financed welfare state created by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, Mr Maduro's predecessor, has given way to a Soviet-style economy marked by consumer shortages, triple-digit inflation and snaking supermarket lines.

Public anger at the situation spilt over last month when the Supreme Court, which is seen as close to the government, briefly assumed the powers of the Congress.

While Maduro's political opponents are busy protesting his heavy-handed rule, however, the vast majority of Venezuelans are simply trying to get by in an economy devastated by socialism. The corporation had announced in 2015 that, following a wave of American company exists after Chávez's death in 2013, it would "likely" cease all production in the country by July of that year.

But the government hasn't backed down.

As tensions have mounted, the government has used its almost-complete control of Venezuela's institutions to pursue its opponents.

"The national government, through the central bank, is going to try to swap gold held as reserves for dollars to stay in power unconstitutionally", said one letter sent Thursday to John Cryan, the CEO of Deutsche Bank.

  • Leroy Wright