Venezuela leader vows city won't turn into a Benghazi
CARACAS — Venezuelan security forces and demonstrators faced off in streets blocked by burning barricades in several provincial cities on Thursday as protests escalated against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.
At least five people have died since the violence broke out last week, the most serious unrest since Maduro was narrowly elected in April 2013. There have been scores of injuries and arrests.
The protesters, mostly students, want Maduro to resign and blame his government for violent crime, high inflation, product shortages and alleged repression of opponents.
Thursday's most serious unrest was in the western Andean states of Tachira and Merida, which have been especially volatile since hardline opposition leaders called supporters onto the streets in early February demanding Maduro's departure.
In the city of San Cristobal, which some residents are describing as a “war zone,” many businesses remained shut as students and police faced off again. The government says it is taking “special measures” to restore order in Tachira.
“This is not a militarization,” Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said on state TV from San Cristobal. “We are here to work for the great majority of people in Tachira. ... Before we have dialogue, we must have order.”
Maduro said he will not let his rivals turn Tachira into “a Benghazi,” referring to the violence-wracked Libyan city.
Wednesday was one of the worst bouts of violence the capital, Caracas, has experienced during nearly three weeks of unrest.
Around a square in the wealthier east of the city, security forces fired tear gas and bullets, chasing youths who hurled Molotov cocktails and blocked roads with burning piles of trash.
“I declare myself in civil disobedience,” read one banner held up by demonstrators on a city road.
Caracas was much calmer during the day, though a few hundred opposition demonstrators gathered again at dusk in the same square, Plaza Altamira. Some businesses stayed closed in a further drag on the ailing economy.
The government said a funeral parade for deceased folk singer Simon Diaz, a beloved figure who died on Wednesday at age 85, was held up because of “violent groups” blocking roads.
Tensions have escalated since opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist, turned himself in to troops this week. He is being held in Caracas' Ramo Verde military jail on charges of fomenting the violence.
“Change depends on every one of us. Don't give up!” Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, said on Twitter.
Local TV channels are providing almost no live coverage of the unrest, so Venezuelans are turning to social media to swap information and images, though falsified photos are circulating.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kurds rout ISIS from key town in Syria
- Ukrainians told to halt joint drills with U.S.
- ISIS ravages centuries-old archaeological site in Iraq
- U.S. Ambassador to South Korea stable after facial surgery for knife wounds
- Boko Haram attack kills 68, targets children in Nigeria
- Ex-wife of late Argentine prosecutor: Death was a homicide
- Teacher turned notorious drug lord Gomez finally nabbed in Mexico
- Tikrit battle poses test for Iraqi army
- China again boosts military spending by double digits
- U.S. ambassador slashed in S. Korea
- Both sides called out in Ukraine fight