Mon, May 08, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Women take to Caracas streets to defy Maduro

AFP, CARACAS

A woman holds up a flower to the members of Venezuelan National Guard soldiers during a demonstration in Caracas on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Thousands of women dressed in white on Saturday marched in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, to keep pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose authority is being increasingly challenged by protests and deadly unrest.

Led by opposition leaders, lawmakers and Lilian Tintori — the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez — the crowd carried flowers and placards denouncing “repression.”

Police and soldiers initially prevented it from reaching the interior ministry.

However, the women eventually made it to the interior and justice ministries.

“We are not going to be off the streets until we have set Venezuela free,” conservative opposition leader Maria Corina Machado said. “We beg the armed forces: Don’t open fire on unarmed people.”

Some women flashed their breasts in a pacifist move as some alongside Machado waved posters reading: “We have no firearms; just tits.”

Similar anti-Maduro rallies took place in other cities, including San Cristobal and Aragua, where police fired gas on the protesters.

On Saturday night, protests in Los Nuevos Teques, on the outskirts of the capital, and Barquisimeto in the country’s west descended into clashes between demonstrators and the military.

It was not immediately known if there were casualties.

More protests were set for yesterday with musicians and other celebrities marching to remember the dead.

The demonstrations were the latest in more than a month of anti-government protests, many of which have been countered by pro-Maduro crowds and security forces.

The death toll since last month — when the protests intensified after Maduro’s administration and the courts stepped up efforts to undermine the opposition — is at least 36, according to prosecutors, with hundreds more injured.

The last death in the unrest, of a 22-year-old man, occurred on Friday during looting in impoverished cities hardest hit by a worsening economic crisis.

In Valencia, where the man died, some areas looked like disaster zones with bars on shop windows bent and windows broken.

Demonstrators blame Maduro for the country’s plight and the shortages of food and medicine. They are calling for elections to remove the leftist president.

Maduro, backed by the Venezuelan military, is resisting.

He and the opposition have blamed each other of using armed groups to sow violence.

The Venezuelan president has started a process to rewrite the constitution enacted under his late predecessor and mentor Hugo Chavez.

The opposition says his real aim is to dodge elections.

Maduro supporters also marched in Caracas, railing against what they called “violence by terrorists,” Venezuelan Minister for Women Blanca Eekhout said.

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