April 24, 2017

Venezuelans pour into Caracas streets in anti-Maduro protest

09 April 2017, 02:52 | Clarence Schmidt

Venezuela opposition keeps up pressure in streets

A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in San Cristobal

The governor of Miranda state, who came within a whisker of defeating President Nicolas Maduro in 2013 elections, is the latest in a number of prominent opposition politicians to be targeted by the embattled socialist government.

"URGENT: I inform the country and global public opinion that I am being notified at this very moment of a BAN for 15 years", Capriles tweeted, adding that his legal team would speak later on Friday. His supporters decried the move as another step toward dictatorship.

Outraged dissidents called the shooting, which occurred at the end of day-long demonstrations in Caracas, yet another sign of the violent oppression they are subjected to under the Maduro regime. But opposition leaders say that is not enough.

Capriles responded to the ban on Thursday, saying, "The only one who is disqualified here is you, Nicolas Maduro". Maduro said on television that authorities detained 30 people.

The move against Capriles is part of a broader government crackdown that began with a decision last week by the Supreme Court to gut the opposition-controlled congress of its last vestiges of power.

On Friday, anti-Maduro demonstrators gathered there from dawn, wrapping red tape emblazed with the words "danger, do not enter" around the office in a surprise protest.

Capriles can appeal against his sanction within two weeks to the comptroller and within six months to the Supreme Court.

That looked unlikely to succeed since the removal of the judges depends on other state institutions loyal to the government.

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There was no immediate comment from authorities.

On Wednesday night, the president of a leading Venezuelan opposition party took refuge at the residence of the Chilean ambassador in Caracas and asked for protection. He's now governor of Miranda state, which surrounds Caracas, and is one of the most recognizable leaders behind the protest movement that has been roiling the country this week.

The protesters on Saturday included Victoria Paez, 26, who sported a baseball cap bearing the slogan "There's a Way!" from Capriles' 2012 presidential run against the late Hugo Chavez. The demonstrations - while at times violent - have so far remained sporadic and small, a far cry from when hundreds of thousands flooded the capital's streets in recent years.

Mr Maduro's socialist government have said that a US-backed business elite is responsible for Venezuela's economic downturn and that it is trying to organise a coup to impose right-wing rule. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. Bernal added that Capriles can't say later as a "sissy" that he's a political prisoner when he's persecuted by his remarks.

As the most dominant figure in the opposition over the past decade, Capriles has been at the forefront of the protests, the most combative since a wave of anti-government unrest in 2014.

The public prosecutor said later on Friday it would charge police officer Rohenluis Mata with the death of Jairo Ortiz, who the interior minister said was not a protester.

On Thursday, as Adm. Kurt Tidd of the U.S. Southern Command - with responsibility for Latin America - was warning the Senate Armed Services Committee of economic instability in Venezuela, protesters and security forces clashed violently in Caracas. Ortiz was a 19-year-old law student at a local university and had been planning to move to Colombia this summer, according to local news reports.

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