1 000s protest ahead of Chavez anniversary

2014-03-05 09:06
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Violent protests escalate in Venezuela

Venezuelans have erected barricades in major cities in some of the worst demonstrations against the government since the protests began.

Caracas - Thousands of flag-waving protesters flooded the streets of Venezuela's capital on Tuesday, seeking to keep pressure on the government on the eve of commemorations marking the anniversary of Hugo Chavez's death.

Led by students, marchers dressed in white streamed peacefully through middle-class neighbourhoods of Caracas toward Petare, a sprawling slum on the city's eastern edge.

But as night fell, around 300 radical protesters threw rocks and firebombs at national guard troops who responded with tear gas and water cannon in an affluent area that has become the scene of near daily clashes.

Three people were detained and a photographer was beaten by protesters.

At least 18 people have died and more than 260 were injured since the protests erupted February 4 in the western border city of San Cristobal, igniting the biggest challenge yet to the nearly year-old government of Chavez's handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro.

In Washington, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the "inexcusable violence perpetrated against opposition leaders and protesters".

Back at the peaceful march in Caracas, protesters chanted "We love you Venezuela" and "Freedom!" as they waved flags in the red, yellow and blue national colors and stopped at the entrance of Petare.

“Enough tear gas”

The demonstrators said they wanted to show that protesters are not just from the middle-class and that the capital's poorer places are not all strongholds of the elected socialist government.

"It's a lie that Petare is 100% Chavista," said Morela Perez, a 39-year-old unemployed resident of the barrio, which is known to include a mix of government backers and supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Holding a sign that read "Petare you are not Chavista", she said protests have not happened there because people are afraid of pro-Chavez activists.

The demonstrators hoisted banners accusing the government of censorship and repression. "There is enough tear gas to make Venezuela cry," read one.

The opposition has been intent on keeping up the momentum of the protests against the Maduro government, which is trying just as hard to defuse them.

The government has encouraged Venezuelans to take full advantage of the annual Carnival holidays, which ended Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Maduro is leading a military and civilian parade to mark one year since the charismatic Chavez died of cancer aged 58, after 14 years in office.

Students and the opposition planned to mark the anniversary with demonstrations of their own, including in San Cristobal.

Analysts say the protests centred on the middle-class have yet to pose a threat to the Maduro government, which relies on a well of support among its poor base.

Living conditions

Maduro insists the protests are a US-backed plot by "fascist" elements intent on ousting him.

Rampant crime, soaring inflation, shortages and worsening living conditions have fuelled anger with the government, particularly among the hard-hit middle class.

Mariana Fonseca, a 39-year-old graphic designer in a baseball cap the colours of the Venezuelan flag, said demonstrators were marching toward Petare because the poor also are affected by street crime.

"The people in the barrios are also with the cause," she said.

"I am protesting for many reasons. One is the violence in the streets, the robberies and the kidnappings. But also because of the shortages of the things like flour, oil and toilet paper," she said.

Maria Eugenia Molina, a 70-year-old who carried a sign with a peace dove and an image of the Virgin Mary, described herself as a "prisoner of the government."

"I am a prisoner of violent crime," she said. "I have to stand in long lines to get food. My pension is not enough to make ends meet."

Read more on:    hugo chavez  |  nicolas maduro  |  venezuela
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!

 
 

I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.