Venezuelan protesters rally four times in a week

2017-04-08 20:40
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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 Venezuelans rallied on Saturday for the fourth time in a week, this time to protest a ruling by the leftist government that bans opposition leader Henrique Capriles from office for 15 years.

Capriles narrowly lost the 2013 presidential election that brought President Nicolas Maduro to power following the death of his mentor Hugo Chavez - father of Venezuela's "socialist revolution."

The government move, which the 44-year-old Capriles announced on Friday, effectively prevents him from running against Maduro in next year's general election.

Capriles was one of the leaders of mass demonstrations this week against Maduro that led to clashes with police. One protester died.

"This thing that they just did to Capriles is the product of tyranny," said Adel Rincones, 61, who wore the uniform of Venezuela's Olympic team.

"These people do whatever they want. Capriles is much bigger than them," said Rincones, who clutched a sign that read "Venezuela is wounded in the heart with hunger, misery, corruption, dictatorship."

Others at the rally held pictures of Capriles.

State comptroller Manuel Galindo imposed the ban due to alleged "administrative irregularities" by Capriles in his job as governor of the northern state of Miranda.

Capriles said that he would appeal the decision and stay in his job as governor, which he has held since 2008.

Venezuela's political crisis intensified last week when the Supreme Court issued rulings curbing the powers of the opposition-controlled legislature.

International criticism

The court has consistently ruled in Maduro's favour since the opposition majority took its seats in the National Assembly legislature in January 2016.

It drew international criticism for last week's rulings, which seized the assembly's powers and revoked lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.

The court reversed the rulings days later, but the opposition intensified its protests, prompting police to fire tear gas at one rally.

Capriles can appeal against his sanction within two weeks to the comptroller and within six months to the Supreme Court.

The collapse in prices for Venezuela's crucial oil exports has sapped the country's revenues.

Ordinary Venezuelans are suffering from shortages of food, medicine and basic goods along with a surge in violent crime.

The opposition blames Maduro for the economic crisis. He says it is due to a capitalist conspiracy backed by the United States.

Read more on:    henrique capriles  |  venezuela

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