Mexican government condemns violence in Venezuela

Venezuelan bishops back anti-government protests, civil disobedience
Caracas metro stations closed ahead of anti-government protest
Author

13 April, 2017

Thousands of protesters decrying President Nicolas Maduro and demanding new elections have faced off with security forces in the capital Caracas.

The streets of Caracas and several other Venezuelan cities have been the scene of running clashes in recent days, with police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon at demonstrators hurling rocks and molotov cocktails.

Monday's planned march is the latest in a series of anti-government protests held in Venezuela since a controversial decision by the country's Supreme Court to strip the National Assembly of its legislative powers.

The court quickly overturned the most controversial part of its decision but the move triggered condemnation at home and overseas, as did Friday's news that the national comptroller had banned politician Henrique Capriles - seen as the opposition's best hope in a presidential election scheduled for next year - from office for 15 years.

Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo reports.

The incident was the latest demonstration to be suppressed by police loyal to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, whom the opposition is trying to unseat over charges of violating the constitution and mismanagement.

Regional governorship polls were postponed indefinitely in December and municipal ones are due later this year amid a chaotic political struggle.

Opposition leaders announced another round of protests in Venezuela's more than 300 municipalities for Thursday, saying scattered demonstrations would stretch security forces thin.

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Lawmakers also said that an elderly woman asphyxiated to death in Caracas after tear gas entered her apartment during Monday's protests.

"The crisis is not only political, but it is a humanitarian".

The opposition is planning what Guevara called the "mother of all protest marches" on 19 April against Maduro.

"All this violence is erupting because they won't let the people have their say via elections", said the speaker of the opposition-majority legislature, Julio Borges, as he hand-delivered a petition to the National Guard headquarters calling on police to "stop the repression".

But the crisis only deepened Friday (7 April) when authorities banned senior opposition figure Henrique Capriles from holding public office.

"A nation without a parliament is like a body without a soul", the bishops said in a public statement from the episcopal conference, adding that the decision by the supreme court was "morally unacceptable".

Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader who accuses foreign countries of "meddling", traveled to communist ally Cuba on Sunday for a meeting of the leftist ALBA bloc.


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