The Venezuelan government has witnessed violent uprisings since anti-government protesters took to the streets Wednesday 26 October, insisting “We Won’t Take No For An Answer”. The bold message, allegedly championed by the country’s opposition leaders, is a reaction against the government’s decision to halt referendum proceedings.
Opposition party leaders warned they’ll march to the presidential palace next week and make sure President Nicolás Maduro hears them.
“Why aren’t we going today? Because we also have to give a chance and rights to all of our Venezuelan brothers,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles told supporters at a Caracas highway.
Over 120 persons were reportedly injured. A total of 147 has been arrested as demonstrators in favor of and against the government block the streets at different locations in the country.
“At one protest, a police officer was killed,” Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said on state broadcaster VTV, according to a CNN report.
Reuters confirmed the death, adding that the policeman died after being shot on Wednesday night in central Miranda state.
“This government is going to fall!” a large number of restive citizens chanted.
Many of the protesters wore white and waved national flags as they gather at different sites across the country.
“This needs to keep growing so that the government understands once and for all that we’re doing this for real,” Capriles, who’s a two-time president of the country, said. He blames the government for the ongoing violence which has seen over 120 injured and 147 arrested, according to the report from Reuters.
Clashes occurred in several cities outside Caracas, witnesses said, including the Andean city of Merida and the volatile western town of San Cristobal that was an epicenter of violence during 2014 anti-Maduro protests.
Opposition politicians and student leaders said there were protesters struck by bullets in Merida and San Cristobal as well as Venezuela’s second-largest city Maracaibo.
Rights group Penal Forum said there were more than 208 arrests nationwide, with 119 people still detained on Wednesday night.
The government gave no figures on injuries or detentions.
A recent move by the government to halt opposition’s recall vote drive, was rejected after it ruled that there were multiple cases of voter identity fraud during the last election.The move has been tagged “controversial” by many.
Maduro is suspected of hatching plans to remain in power much longer than opposition parties can imagine. The suspicious move aroused political bickerings which is far from ending.
Each side accuses the other of staging a coup in the country, which is fast breaking apart considering the mournful economic downslide, broken hospitals and skyrocketed food prices.
On Wednesday, demonstrators said they were determined to make their voices heard.
“If they don’t want to let us choose in an electoral voting process, they are going to have to listen to us as we march in the streets peacefully, overwhelmingly, and tirelessly until they meet the demands of the Venezuelan people,” said Hasler Iglesias, a student protest leader in Caracas.
“Dialogue cannot be used as blackmail or an oxygen tank to give more time to a government that each day has less time left,” he said.
Metro stations have remained closed as angry protesters who marched in cities across the country, share pictures on social media.
Maduro, the unpopular 53-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez who has presided over an unprecedented economic crisis, accuses the opposition of seeking a coup with U.S. help and has vowed there will be no plebiscite on his rule.
Maduro says low oil prices and a U.S.-led “economic war” against him are responsible for the recession, and has vowed to stand firm.
“Maduro is not leaving!” several thousand supporters chanted at the government rally.
“They are desperate, they have received the order from the north to destroy the Venezuelan revolution,” he told a counter-march of red-shirted government loyalists.
Foes say Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader who narrowly won election after Chavez’s death in 2013, is an incompetent autocrat who is to blame for the economic problems.
“I’m not scared of protesting. It’s the food lines that scare me, that’s where you see all the misery,” said a 36-year-old health worker Auly Gonzalez.
According to a report from Aljazeera, on Wednesday, opposition leaders called a 12-hour nationwide general strike to be held on Friday. The request was expected to be a peaceful protest against Venezuela’s lingering economic crisis which has reached its unbearable peak. The country lacks food and has experienced shortage of medicines.
The opposition says their legislative majority power will be exercised against Maduro’s government as they plan to issue a declaration that will hold the president responsible for the crisis.
“We are going to notify Nicolas Maduro that the Venezuelan people declare he has abandoned his post,” the speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, said to cheering protesters in Caracas.
Henry hopes the ruling will be delivered in a march scheduled November 3 at the presidential palace.