Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 17th 2014 Contents A24
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, February 17, 2014
CARACAS --- Supporters and
opponents of Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro have taken to the
streets of the capital, Caracas, in
The demonstrations come at a
time of growing political tension in
Three people were killed during
anti-government protests on
Wednesday, and some 100 students
Mr Maduro accused the opposi-
tion of stirring up trouble as part
of a coup plot and urged his sup-
porters to march for peace on Sat-
Government supporters began
arriving at Venezuela Square, in cen-
tral Caracas, in the morning.
They were dressed predominantly
in red or in Venezuela s national
colours --- blue, yellow and red.
Hours later Mr Maduro addressed
thousands of his supporters in Boli-
var Avenue. The march was broad-
cast live on national television.
"I call all the people to the streets
in order to defend peace," he said.
He warned that his government
would not give in to those he
described as "fascists," including
former president of neighbouring
Colombia, Alvaro Uribe.
"Alvaro Uribe is behind this,
financing and directing these fascist
"He intended to use a Venezuelan
television channel [NTN24] to do
the same they did on April 11, 2002,"
Mr Maduro said, referring to a failed
military coup against the late Pres-
ident, Hugo Chavez.
Mr Uribe, a centre-right politi-
cian, was a fierce enemy of Mr
Chavez and accused the late pres-
ident of supporting Colombia s
largest rebel group, the Farc.
Mr Maduro said police had been
looking for opposition leader
Leopoldo Lopez, accused of ordering
"all these violent kids, which he
trained, to destroy half of Caracas
to then go into hiding."
Mr Lopez has not been seen in
public since an arrest warrant was
issued for him on Wednesday.
The United States Secretary of
State, John Kerry, has issued a state-
ment expressing concern by the ris-
ing tensions in Venezuela.
"We are particularly alarmed by
reports that the Venezuelan gov-
ernment has arrested or detained
scores of anti-government protestors
and issued an arrest warrant for
opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez,"
read the statement.
including a movement known as
Mothers in White, gathered at Las
Mercedes neighbourhood in eastern
Thousands of people, mostly
wearing white, marched towards the
Courts of Justice building and
stopped for a memorial ceremony
to the three demonstrators killed on
Wednesday: Bassil da Costa, Juan
Montoya and Robert Redman.
Student leader Enrique Altimari
said the main aim of their "peaceful
protest" was to "pay tribute to the
He said the march would end
before night fell, to avoid a repeat
of the incidents of Wednesday.
The three victims were shot dead
by unknown gunmen as the oppo-
sition marches came to an end.
"The streets at night are not a
safe place for us. We would not be
achieving any goal and would only
fall in the trap set up by violent pro-
government groups," Mr Altimari
The opposition march ended
before dusk with clashes between
police, who fired tear gas in attempts
to disperse the crowd, and demon-
strators who hurled stones.
Reports say three people were
The main opposition grievances
are high inflation, crime and the
shortage of some staples.
The government has blamed the
shortages on "saboteurs" and "prof-
it-hungry corrupt businessmen."
Venezuelan politics has become
Mr Maduro was elected last April
by a narrow margin, defeating the
centre-right candidate, Henrique
Capriles, who denounced electoral
A former union leader, Mr
Maduro was a close ally of President
Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer
last March after 14 years in office.
Mr Capriles says the government s
left-wing policies have led to eco-
nomic collapse, including high infla-
tion - 56.2 per cent in 2013, accord-
ing to official figures.
Source: BBC Latin America
Thousands march in Venezuela
Opposition demonstrators shout slogans against the National Bolivarian Police in Caracas, Venezuela, where
national security forces, backed by water tanks, tear gas and rubber bullets have confronted anti-government
demonstrators who tried to block Caracas' main highway Saturday evening. AP PHOTO
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