World

2 more protesters die as anti-Maduro violence rage in western Venezuela

2 more protesters die as anti-Maduro violence rage in western Venezuela

Maduro is vowing to resolve the crisis by convening a special assembly to rewrite the nation's constitution, while the opposition is demanding an immediate presidential election.

CARACAS, Venezuela Thousands of protesters hauled folding chairs, beach umbrellas and coolers onto main roads across Venezuela on Monday for another national demonstration against the socialist government.

Officials in the western state of Tachira said a second man, Luis Alviarez, 18, died from a bullet to the chest amid the protests.

Maduro has accused the country's business elite of boycotting the economy to create unrest.

Maduro blames the opposition for the violence, claiming its leaders are fomenting unrest to remove him from power. "My father died because of a lack of medicine".

The government's response to the demonstrations has drawn global condemnation, with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressing concern in April that Maduro is "not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard".

The opposition, which commands majority support after years in the shadow of the ruling socialists, is more united than during the last wave of anti-Maduro protests in 2014. Maduro has vowed general elections will take place as scheduled in late 2018 but not before.

He has accused the opposition of mounting an "armed insurgency" against him with U.S. backing.

His Social Movements minister Aristobulo Isturiz said Monday that protesters were "demanding the impossible" by seeking early elections.




Government supporters say worldwide media coverage of Venezuela has been biased, emphasizing government repression and minimizing opposition violence.

Maduro has set no date for postponed regional polls or for mayoral elections due this year.

"In this light, the announcement to expand and further strengthen armed civilian groups is worrying as it can fuel further violence and does not contribute to a solution". Police have fired tear gas and protesters have hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails in a near-daily series of clashes.

The EU has urged Venezuelan authorities to halt the use of violence against peaceful antigovernment protesters and said it stands ready to help the country through its political crisis.

"We are going to stay in the street, building a way out of the crisis", opposition politician Freddy Guevara said at Saturday's Caracas rally.

Maduro's fate ultimately might not be decided by forces beyond Venezuela's borders or by demonstrations within them, so much as by another party: the military.

The protests that erupted after the government-stacked Supreme Court issued a ruling March 29 nullifying the opposition-controlled National Assembly, a decision it later reversed amid a storm of domestic and worldwide criticism.

The court later backtracked amid an worldwide outcry but protests resumed after Maduro called May 1 for creating a body to rewrite of the constitution.

As global pressure on him grows, the European Union on Monday became the latest to call for elections in its most outspoken statement yet on the Venezuela crisis.


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