Venezuelan security forces teargas protesters

2016-06-02 21:48
Nicolas Maduro (Picture: AP)

Nicolas Maduro (Picture: AP)

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Caracas - Venezuelan soldiers and police fired tear gas to break up a protest against President Nicolas Maduro outside the presidential palace on Thursday, AFP correspondents said.

Hundreds of national guardsmen and police cracked down on the small protest by dozens of demonstrators, as the country awaited a key ruling from the electoral authorities on whether the leftist leader's opponents can go ahead with efforts to call a referendum on removing him from office.

The protest, staged about four blocks from the presidential palace, was relatively tiny.

But the response by security forces reflected the tensions gripping the country as Maduro's opponents blame him for a raging economic crisis marked by severe shortages of food and medicine, daily power cuts and the near-paralysis of government offices.

Rallying to cries of "We are hungry!" and "This government is going to fall!" the protesters defied hundreds of police and soldiers, erecting barricades in the streets and trying to reach the presidential palace.

"I'm protesting because we're tired of the lines, of not finding products" in stores and markets, said Francis Marcano, a 21-year-old student protester who was carrying a stone in his hand.

Maduro supporters heckled the protesters, shouting "The streets must be respected!"

Security forces eventually moved on the protesters, firing tear gas to break them up.

Although Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves, it has descended into economic and political chaos as global crude prices have collapsed over the past two years, threatening Maduro and the socialist economic model he inherited from his late predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Read more on:    nicolas maduro  |  venezuela

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