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Students protest as Venezuela's political standoff worsens

Discussion in 'Non Vape Related News' started by news, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. news

    news Active Member

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    By Anggy Polanco | SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela

    SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela Masked youths burned rubbish and set up roadblocks in a volatile Venezuelan border city on Monday, witnesses said, in the latest protest over the suspension of a referendum drive to remove socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

    Several hundred students held demonstrations in San Cristobal, near Colombia. The city, a hotbed of anti-Maduro sentiment, was the site of the worst violence during protests two years ago that led to 43 deaths around the nation.

    "We want freedom!" chanted the protesters, who closed several roads under the watch of police and troops.

    Students held scattered protests in other places around Venezuela, including the capital Caracas, but mainstream opposition leaders were holding fire for nationwide rallies planned for Wednesday.

    The political polarization is impeding solutions to Venezuela's punishing economic crisis. In the third year of a recession, many people must skip meals due to widespread food shortages and spiraling prices.

    Foes say Maduro, 53, has veered openly into dictatorship by sidelining the opposition-led congress, jailing opponents and then leaning on compliant judicial and electoral authorities to stop the referendum.

    Officials say a frustrated and violent opposition is seeking a coup to end 17 years of socialist rule and get their hands back on the country's oil wealth.

    Many of Venezuela's 30 million people fear the standoff will create more unrest in a nation already exhausted by political confrontation, a plunging economy and rampant crime.

    Ramping up the crisis, the opposition-led National Assembly this weekend began proceedings to put Maduro on trial for violating democracy.

    The session was interrupted when about 100 pro-government protesters stormed in, brandishing Socialist Party signs and shouting: "The Assembly will fall!"

    Still, the trial is unlikely to get traction, given the government and Supreme Court say congress has delegitimized itself.

    Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, is on a trip to seek consensus on supporting oil prices. His popularity has tumbled since he narrowly won the 2013 election to replace his mentor, Hugo Chavez, who died from cancer.

    (Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; and Girish Gupta; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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