Published: Tue, April 11, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Venezuela's Maduro blasts foe for chemical attack comments

Venezuela's Maduro blasts foe for chemical attack comments

Venezuela's political crisis intensified last week when the Supreme Court issued rulings curbing the powers of the opposition-controlled legislature. The action was quickly overturned, but the global outcry it sparked galvanized the opposition.

As the sea of protesters approached the headquarters of state-run PDVSA oil company, they were met by a curtain of eye-scorching tear gas and rubber bullets.

The large protests blocked off major streets and fire were lit in on highways, with protesters shown taunting and throwing rocks at police officers.

"The government is afraid". If it were not afraid, it would not close the streets.

The demonstrations in the capital and several other cities came a day after Maduro's government prohibited Capriles from running for office for 15 years.

Thousands took to the streets of Venezuela to protest against the country's unpopular President, Nicolas Maduro, in support of banned opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

"URGENT: I inform the country and worldwide public opinion that I am being notified at this very moment of a BAN for 15 years", tweeted Mr Capriles, who is now the governor of the central coastal state of Miranda.

"What happened yesterday to remove all powers to the Legislative Assembly forces us to raise our voice of protest and solidarity with Venezuelan democracy that is clearly violated", Santos said in a statement.

"We also reject the rationales the Maduro government proffers for its repressive actions, which, when closely examined are spurious and, politically-motivated, and without basis in domestic or worldwide law", a U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Saturday.

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In San Cristobal in the west, masked gunmen reportedly set off explosions, causing demonstrators to flee.

"The country has chosen the path of dictatorship", he said. That decision was walked back amid fierce domestic and worldwide criticism, but opposition leaders say it revealed the government's authoritarian nature.

Powerful Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello has also called for the dissolution of the opposition's Democratic Unity coalition, which could leave Maduro's adversaries without a party platform in the 2018 vote. Shortages of basic food products and medicines are commonplace.

At the height of Saturday's crackdown by police, Mr Smolansky took to Twitter to accuse Mr Maduro of "beginning to use chemical weapons as is occurring in Syria". "Plus the economic situation is insufferable, no one can live here". "No one can live here".

The opposition will protest again on Monday and then on April 19 will hold what leaders described as "the mother of all marches" during a Saturday night press conference.

A march against the ban of a top opposition official turned violent, as police confronted the demonstrators.

Discontent with Maduro's policies is at an all-time high as Venezuela battles a dramatic economic and humanitarian crisis.

Venezuelan authorities confirmed that a young man was killed on Thursday during anti-government protests and vowed to investigate the fatal attack, the first since a controversy over the Supreme Court blew up last week.

He said the main aim of the protests is to call for elections.

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