Venezuela opposition vows fresh protests despite deaths

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas canister during clashes with security forces at a protest in Caracas.

The EU's executive commission said Thursday that it was "saddened" by the deaths of two young people during Wednesday's protests.

The opposition has called for another protest today, raising the possibility of prolonged disruption in Venezuela.

In the culmination of a fortnight of violent demonstrations that killed five people, marchers around the country will demand the government present a timeline for delayed elections, halt a security crackdown on protests, and respect the autonomy of the opposition-led legislature.

"This is like a chess game and each side is moving whatever pieces they can", said Machuca, her face covered in a white, sticky substance to protect herself from the effects of tear gas.

Paola Ramirez, a university student from San Cristobal, a city near the Colombian border, was also shot by armed government supporters when she and her boyfriend were running away from the gang. "And we will change this country, whether they like it or not". Later Wednesday evening, Caprilles called for supporters to congregate at the same meeting points nationwide, including 26 locations in Caracas, on Thursday for a second day of protests. By doing away with the opposition-controlled legislative branch, the move effectively meant the remaining two branches of Venezuelan government were controlled by the ruling United Socialist Party.

"This is exhausting - but we won't give up until we achieve a better country and democracy", Luiza Mayorca, a lawyer and mother of three, told NPR's Phil Reeves in Caracas.

PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO, Venezuela (through interpreter): The time for combat has arrived, my fellow patriots.

Venezeula has been rocked by intermittent but violent protests since the Supreme Court dissolved an opposition-led parliament last month.

But the protesters who showed up Wednesday vowed to keep struggling against Maduro and voicing their displeasure with the state of the country.

Socialist officials dismissed the opposition marches as efforts to destabilise the government, pointing to barricades of burning trash mounted by protesters and vandalism of public property.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Watch's Americas spokesman, said at a news conference in Washington: 'We know of no other similar case in Latin America of a government arming urban militias. The protesters called for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's resignation and the release of political prisoners.

On Wednesday afternoon Maduro addressed a cheering red-shirted crowd in Caracas to declare that a "corrupt and interventionist right-wing" had been defeated.

"Today the people stood by Maduro!" the president said, blasting his rivals as "anti-Christs". The 44-year-old governor of Miranda, who has run for president twice, said the government was again acting like a dictatorship.

"The opposition is trying to provoke a conflict but they aren't going to achieve their goal", said Marquez, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the eyes of the late Hugo Chavez, a symbol of revolutionary zeal in Venezuela. Slideshow: Mother of all marches in Venezuela Reuters Venezuela (@ReutersVzla) 19 avril 2017 Muere abaleada estudiante universitaria durante protestas antigubernamentales en #Venezuela: familiares y testigos Reuters Venezuela (@ReutersVzla) 19 avril 2017 How many have died in total??

Venezuela benefited for years from oil-fuelled consumption and many poor citizens rose into the middle class. Snaking grocery lines are now a common sight and people routinely say they skip meals and can not find basic medication.

The court recanted after an worldwide outcry, but tensions increased when authorities slapped a political ban on opposition leader Henrique Capriles on April 7. The government has repeatedly blocked any attempts by the opposition to oust Maduro from power by a referendum vote. Opponents also took to the streets of cities including Barquisimeto, Porlamar and Maracaibo, where they were met by national guard and local police.

'I've just graduated and what I've got in the bank isn't enough for a bottle of cooking oil, ' said Gregorio Mendoza, a 23 -year-old engineer in Puerto Ordaz.

  • Arturo Norris