Venezuela protests claim three lives

An anti-government march organizers called the "mother of all protests" in Venezuela turned deadly Wednesday when at least three people were killed, including a national guardsman.

It wasn't clear whether these marchers would have any more success reaching the office than Wednesday's thousands of demonstrators, who were directed away from government buildings by security forces firing tear gas canisters. Dozens had to slide down a concrete embankment and into the Guaire River to escape the noxious fumes.

Maduro claims that beneath a peaceful facade, the protests are little more than opposition efforts to foment a coup to end socialism in Venezuela. However, the government hasn't confirmed the other deaths at the moment.

Many feel the leader has only served to worsen the country's deepening economic crisis, and using dictatorial measures to quash public unrest.

As night fell, a few thousand people were still gathered in a plaza in wealthy eastern Caracas as residents in nearby buildings banged pots and pans in a show of support.

The worldwide support received by the Venezuelan people in many capitals of the world, in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe, was also substantial, where the peoples joined forces with the Venezuelan, something that should give great pause to those who are confabulating to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution.

That move was later reversed, but it had the added effect of energising Venezuela's fractious opposition, which had been struggling to channel growing anger against Maduro over widespread food shortages and triple-digit inflation.

Reverol said Thursday that Paola Ramirez was killed on Wednesday by a member of Vente Venezuela, a party led by high-profile opposition leader Maria Corina Machado. They were backed by 11 Latin American countries who issued a joint statement this week calling on authorities to set a time frame for elections to "allow for a quick solution to the crisis that Venezuela is living through". The opposition is also trying to strengthen its momentum after its attempt previous year to oust Maduro with a recall referendum was quashed by election officials.

Elections are not due until 2019, but the opposition said the country was on the verge of collapse.

Brian Ellsworth of Reuters, speaking to us by Skype from Caracas, said tensions have been building.

"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 noxious effects of tear gas.

David Smolansky, mayor of the municipality of El Hatillo and an opposition leader, captured this scene Wednesday afternoon of anti-government protesters crossing the Guaire River in Caracas to escape tear gas smoke.

Chavez launched the leftist movement carried on by Maduro, who succeeded him as president in 2013.

Colombia's foreign minister, Maria Angela Holguin, on Wednesday called on UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez to "pay attention to the worrying militarization of Venezuelan society" after Maduro had implied he would arm supporters in defense of his government.

"This is a test case for Trump", said Raul Gallegos, the author of a book on Venezuela and a Bogota-based analyst at Control Risks consultancy.

"We are writing a new page in history", said Miguel Pizarro, an opposition congressman. At some of the protests, violent clashes between protesters and security forces were reported.

Local media reports that on April 19 the adapted lyrics of the popular singer-songwriter Alí Primera "Al combate me voy" came true, a flag that raised workers, students, women, peasants, and children marching from different parts of the capital and from neighboring states to Avenida Bolivar.

  • Julie Sanders