Venezuela braces for more violence as anti-government protests turn deadly

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 21, 2017

Workers of General Motors listen during a meeting with government officials at the company's plant in Valencia, Venezuela, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Massive protests against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro were held on Wednesday throughout the country as organized demonstrations outside of the Venezuelan embassies in Colombia and Peru were also conducted.

Venezuela has seen demonstrators take to the streets in protest against President Nicolas Maduro. “Nevertheless, if sustained and prolonged strong protests reach a tipping point by overwhelmingly escalating beyond the capacity of security forces to contain them, then the probability of the military changing its stance and forcing the National Electoral Council to hold early elections or stage a coup to assume power directly will increase.”.

In recent days, Maduro ordered troops to fan out around the country on high alert, and he encouraged his backers, including civilian militia members, to defend against alleged plans to overthrow his government.

After nearly three weeks of anti-government protests on the streets of Venezuela and coupled with Wednesday's figure, the current death toll has increased to eight, including one police officer.

Seven protesters have been killed in demonstrations against Maduro's government, the BBC reported.

He didn't provide any evidence to back up the claim, and the opposition rejected it as an attempt to intimidate Venezuelans from exercising their constitutional right to protest.

Maduro continues to delay overdue presidential elections after losing his majority in parliament in 2015.

"I participate in these protests, out of a sense of responsibility for being Venezuelan".

Tensions soared Wednesday as anti-Maduro demonstrators dodged tear gas canisters lobbed by police, and Maduro loyalists marched in a counter-protest. The government last year abruptly postponed regional elections the opposition was heavily favored to win and cut off a petition drive to force a referendum seeking Maduro's removal before elections late next year. He's expected to address supporters at a rival march.

A National Guard sergeant was killed by a sniper during "violent protests" in Miranda state and a colonel was injured, the human rights ombudsman Tarek Saab tweeted on Wednesday night. Slideshow: Mother of all marches in Venezuela Reuters Venezuela (@ReutersVzla) 19 avril 2017 Muere abaleada estudiante universitaria durante protestas antigubernamentales en #Venezuela: familiares y testigos Reuters Venezuela (@ReutersVzla) 19 avril 2017 How many have died in total??

The public prosecutor's office said it was investigating both cases.

And the mayor of the western city of San Cristobal told The Associated Press a 23-year-old woman was killed by gunfire from pro-government groups surrounding protesters there.

"If we were millions today, tomorrow we'll be more", Mr Capriles added.

But the defense minister, General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, has pledged the army's "unconditional loyalty", while Maduro blasted Borges for inciting a "coup".

Foreign governments are also warning about the increasingly bellicose rhetoric and repressive stance of the government.

Venezuela's opposition says it will stage the "mother of all marches" on Wednesday, accusing President Nicolas Maduro of resorting to dictatorial measures to quash popular outrage over a deepening economic crisis. The U.S. secretary of state says the Trump administration is concerned about the political turmoil in Venezuela and feels socialist President Nicolas Maduro is trying to squash the voice of his opponents.

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