Venezuela crisis: Opposition holds 'mother of all protests'


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Reuters

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Demonstrators want new elections and the release of opposition politicians

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are taking part in fresh demonstrations in the capital Caracas and in more than 20 other cities, in what they are calling the “mother of all protests”.

Demonstrators want new elections and the release of opposition politicians.

There are reports that a young protester is in a serious condition after being shot in the head in the San Bernardino area of the capital.

Government supporters in Caracas are also rallying in big numbers.

Despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela has suffered for several years from high inflation, rampant crime and a shortage of basic goods.

What is behind the turmoil?

The protests are expected to be the biggest in three years, putting extra pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to negotiate with the opposition and find a way of easing the country’s economic crisis.

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Reuters

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There have been clashes between protesters and riot police

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Reuters

Image caption

Supporters of Mr Maduro have also been rallying

Anti-government protesters have described it as Venezuela’s “second independence day”, while government supporters say they are defending the country and its oil industry.

Elections are not due until 2019, but the opposition says the country is on the verge of collapse. Inflation is expected to top 700% this year, the IMF says.

The latest crisis was triggered by last month’s Supreme Court decision to officially take over power from the opposition-controlled parliament.

The Supreme Court reversed its decision after three days, but it was too late to prevent a new wave of protests.

Venezuela has now seen weeks of clashes between demonstrators and the police. At least five people have been killed and many more injured in clashes.


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