Venezuela Protests Keep Pressure on Embattled Maduro

Demonstrators march during an opposition rally in Caracas
Demonstrators march during an opposition rally in Caracas Venezuela

09 April, 2017

"PATH OF DICTATORSHIP" Capriles had urged a crowd of supporters in Caracas to march to the office of the state human rights ombudsman, whom the opposition says is a puppet of the government.

"We are calling the people into the street to support our demand for the judges to be removed", said senior opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara.

The comptroller earlier this year said he was considering barring Capriles, who is now governor of the central coastal state of Miranda, from holding office.

Capriles rejected the move and insisted he would retain his post as governor, branding Maduro a dictator.

In one incident, demonstrators against Socialist President Maduro gathered at the ombudsman's office from dawn, wrapping red tape emblazoned with the words "danger, do not enter" around the building, according to Al Jazeera. Maduro didn't comment Friday about the comptroller general's order containing the ban on Capriles' ability to run.

Still, others have been motivated by the escalating political crisis and the opposition coalition putting on a more dynamic and coordinated front than usual.

Opposition protesters have said their demonstrations are being stymied by authorities closing subway stations and adding checkpoints on major highways.

If those actions taken unilaterally by would not only make it harder for the rest of the region to play an effective role but it would raise the exit costs of Venezuelan officials when we really need to be reducing them.

"When the dictatorship squeals, it's a sign we're advancing", he said in a rousing speech surrounded by other leading opposition figures, many of whom themselves have been targeted.

Street protests are among the few options left for the center-right opposition to pressure Maduro, whom they blame for the country's descent into economic calamity.

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The following year he was again the opposition's presidential candidate and lost to current president Mr Maduro by the slimmest of margins.

After this week's demonstrations, Maduro dismissed Capriles as "politically finished".

Last week, the Supreme Court issued rulings transferring the National Assembly's legislative powers to itself and revoking lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on Friday he has been banned from holding political office for 15 years, a move that could galvanize protests against the leftist government and upend a presidential election scheduled for 2018.

The court later reversed the rulings after an worldwide outcry, but kept in place other measures limiting the assembly's powers. The demonstration would be the latest in a string of violent marches that was sparked by the Supreme Court's ruling to annul the legislature.

Venezuela is facing a severe political and economic crisis, in which the loss of oil revenue has led to hyperinflation, widespread hunger, shortages of medicine, and insecurity.

Maduro is resisting opposition efforts to hold a vote on removing him from power. The Organization of America States issued its strongest warning to the country yet after two back-to-back meetings.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans shut down much of the capital yesterday and clashed with police to protest what they call an attempted coup by the socialist administration last week. Public prosecutors said they would charge a policeman over the killing.

Lopez was arrested in 2014, at the start of months of nationwide unrest that ultimately killed more than 40 people.

"Maduro is scared that I will be the new commander in chief".

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