University student killed in Venezuela opposition protest

Security forces have been using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, while several opposition leaders have been roughed up and bloodied while participating in demonstrations.

Although anti-government campaigners have held similar rallies over the poor economic conditions in Venezuela in the recent past, the latest is said to be the first sustained wave of protests occurring across the country over the past 10 days.

It said that Venezuelans have the right to demonstrate peacefully and "to see the political conflict immediately solved".

While heated rhetoric and exaggerated claims are favorite tactics used on both sides of Venezuela's bitter political divide, the singling out of critics in such a forceful way by Maduro is frequently a prelude to legal action.

Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate and current Miranda state governor, on Saturday said his headquarters in Caracas had caught fire after tear gas was thrown inside.

Venezuela's leftist, regional allies pledged to support its embattled government at a summit in Havana on Monday, where President Nicolas Maduro accused the opposition of resorting to violence to lay the groundwork for a foreign invasion. As night fell, many streets still reeked of tear gas and a small group of youth burned trash and tore down street signs at busy intersections in eastern Caracas.

The protests were triggered by the Supreme Court's decision to gut the opposition-controlled legislature of its last vestiges of power, a move that was later reversed amid widespread worldwide condemnation and even dissent within Maduro's normally disciplined socialist leadership.




That blocks Capriles, who narrowly lost the 2013 presidential election to Maduro, from running against him next year.

The opposition is demanding a date for gubernatorial elections, meant to be held past year, and is seeking early presidential elections.

"Heavily sanctioning the opposition - most recently an opposition politician Henrique Capriles Radonski who was banned from political life for 15 years - does not help to lower the unrest and the tensions in the country", it reads.

However, the opposition, which has been protesting in the last two weeks to demand early elections, pounced on the incident as evidence that Maduro is deeply despised amid food shortages and spiraling inflation.

Daniel Queliz became the second person to die within a week in street protests called by opponents who want to remove Maduro from office in the crisis-hit nation.

To preserve Venezuela's independence was to "preserve the independence, unity, and development of the region", said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. But opposition leaders renewed calls to take to the streets, saying Maduro's words have no credibility until a full election timeline has been formally established.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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