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Venezuela Marches Turns Violent, Protesters Killed And Gassed

Opposition leaders in Venezuela organized what they call the “mother of all protests” on April 19 and thousands of Venezuelans took to the street in solidarity against the Maduro government. Venezuela has experienced violent clashes between citizens and police for two days and Venezuelans protest what many are calling a dictatorship. Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro tried to undermine the opposition’s protest by forming his own pro-Maduro rallies. It wasn’t long before the protest turned violent as police shot tear gas into the crowd. So far, there have been two confirmed deaths, both anti-Maduro protesters. Here’s what we know so far about what is happening in Venezuela.

Venezuelans have taken to the streets again to demand a change in government.

On the 207th anniversary of their independence from Spain, Venezuelans are fighting for their freedoms again from the Maduro-led United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The South American country has been embroiled in protests for three weeks after the Supreme Court attempted to strip the opposition-filled National Assembly of power.

Armed Maduro supporters and police officers have instigated violence against the protesters to stop the protests.

April 19’s protests added to the death toll, with a total of 7 protesters being killed on the streets for protesting Maduro’s government the past three weeks. The streets of Caracas, the capitol, were filled with thousands of protesters who marched from 26 different parts of the city in hopes of reaching the Ombudsman’s office in downtown Caracas. Police, like all the other times protesters tried to reach the office, blocked the path and met protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The mounting international and national pressure has started to spark some changes in the Maduro government.

The Supreme Court reversed its decision to strip the National Assembly of their power and now Venezuelans want fresh elections to take their country back from a government accused of attacking its own constitution. Maduro’s government has even prevented the leading opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, from participating in any political activity for the next 15 years by bringing charges of misusing government funds. Capriles, who almost beat Maduro in the 2013 presidential election, adamantly denies the charges saying they are politically motivated and unfounded.

The protests and the actions of the Venezuelan people have caught the attention of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“We are concerned that the government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people,” Tillerson said in a news conference, according to Reuters. “We are concerned about that situation. We’re watching it closely and working with others to communicate those concerns.”

On April 20, Venezuelans again clogged major streets in cities across the country demanding their freedom.

According to CNN, protesters and the opposition are demanding the National Assembly be given their full power back, the release of all political prisoners, and for the government to hold the elections they have been purposely stalling.

Amid the turmoil and violence, General Motors has ceased operations in the South American country after it was allegedly seized by the government.

As reported by NPR, the motor vehicle industry in Venezuela has taken a severe hit because of the political and economic turmoil. The government had effectively blocked auto makers from the money needed to import parts and handle business as usual. “G.M. strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities and will vigorously take all legal actions to defend its rights,” G.M. told The New York Times in a statement.

The protests are in their third week and we will have to see if the Maduro government will respond to increased pressure.

@inti / Twitter
CREDIT: @inti / Twitter

READ: Fed Up Venezuelans Unite Nationwide To Tell Maduro They’ve Had Enough

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