Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Rival rallies grip Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelans on both sides of the nation’s bitter political divide took to the streets on Saturday after two weeks of mass protests that have President Nicolas Maduro scrambling to squash an increasingly militant opposition movement.

In Caracas, tens of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro filled several city blocks in their biggest rally to date against his 10-month-old government. Across town, at the presidential palace, Maduro addressed a much-smaller crowd of mostly female supporters dressed in the red of his socialist party.

The dueling protests capped a violent week in which the government jailed Leopoldo Lopez, a fiery hard-liner who roused the opposition following its defeat in December’s mayoral elections, and dozens of other student activists. The violence has left at least 10 people dead on both sides and injured more than 100.

A few small clashes that erupted between government opponents and state security forces after the opposition rally broke up were visually impressive, but resulted in only five injuries.

In a pattern seen in past demonstrations, dozens of stragglers erected barricades of trash and other debris and threw rocks and bottles at police and National Guardsmen. Troops responded with volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the students from reaching a highway.

There were also clashes in San Cristobal, a remote city on the western border with Colombia that has seen some of the worst violence, but most opposition marches across the country ended peacefully.

The protests claimed their 10th fatality, when a 23-year-old student in the provincial city of Valencia was pronounced dead Saturday after an eight-hour surgery for brain injuries suffered at a demonstration earlier in the week.

Geraldine Moreno was near her home on Wednesday, watching students defend a barricade at the corner of her street, when six national guardsmen rushed in and fired rubber bullets at close range, hitting her in the face, El Universal newspaper reported.

On Saturday at the opposition rally held in wealthier eastern Caracas, two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles urged supporters to keep pressuring the government to resolve problems afflicting the oil-rich nation, from rampant crime to galloping 56 percent inflation.

“If you (Maduro) can’t, then it’s time to go,” Capriles told the crowd.

Capriles, 41, has frequently criticized Lopez’s strategy of taking to the streets without building support among the poor. Those differences were on display again Saturday, when he told supporters that unrest in middle-class neighborhoods distracts people’s attention from the country’s mounting woes and only strengthens the government’s hand

“Who are you going to convince by barricading yourself on your own street when everyone there is already convinced,” he said.

Still, he downplayed any sense of division within the opposition’s ranks, and recalled his own four-month confinement in 2002 in the same military prison where Lopez is being held while vowing to fight for the politician’s release.

“We may have our differences, but there’s something bigger than us all that unites us, which is Venezuela, damn it!” Capriles told the roaring crowd.

Elsewhere in the capital, government backers filled a wide avenue in a boisterous march to the presidential palace accompanied by sound trucks blaring music and slogans. The crowd made up mostly of women danced in the street and carried photos of the late president Hugo Chavez while vendors hawked calendars emblazoned with his image.

First Lady Cilia Flores called on supporters to be alert for opposition attempts to incite more violence in the days ahead to create conditions for a Ukraine-like power grab.

“Venezuela isn’t Ukraine,” Flores, who rarely speaks in public but is a close adviser to her husband, told the crowd. “The right-wing fascists aren’t going to impose themselves here.”

Maduro said he won’t pull security forces off the streets until the opposition abandons what calls a “fascist” conspiracy to oust him from power.

“This elected president, the son of Chavez, is going to keep protecting the people,” he said while holding up what he said was an improvised explosive device used by protesters to attack government buildings and security forces. “Nobody is going to blackmail me.”

It’s unclear whether the street protests can maintain their momentum with fatigue setting in, the Carnival holiday approaching and no Kiev-like ousting of Maduro in sight.

Capriles has said he’ll attend a meeting Monday called by Maduro to talk with local authorities, including opposition members, but is threatening to walk out if his remarks aren’t broadcast live on national TV as the president’s are almost daily.

Even if the protests fizzle out, the underlying frustrations that sparked them show no sign of easing: high crime, food shortages and inflation that erodes living standards in a country with the world’s biggest oil reserves.

“This is a rich country and we can’t even buy a kilo of flour, a rich country but we live in misery,” Marta Rivas, a 39-year-old mother of two, said as she joined the San Cristobal march.

The current political turmoil in Venezuela was sparked on Feb. 12 by huge opposition marches that left three people dead— two opposition members and a government supporter.

Authorities blamed opposition leader Lopez for fomenting the violence and jailed him on charges including arson and incitement, prompting anger from his supporters at home and criticism from abroad.

The opposition accuses the National Guard and armed militia groups of attacking protesters and firing indiscriminately into crowds, as well as beating up and menacing some of the hundreds of activists who’ve been jailed nationwide.

Maduro said for the first time Friday that he’s investigating whether security forces opened fire at the Feb. 12 protests. But he spent most of a nearly 3-hour press conference denouncing what he called a “campaign of demonization to isolate the Bolivarian revolution” by foreign media.

————

By Fabiola Sanchez and Joshua Goodman. Associated Press writers Ben Fox, Jorge Rueda and Andrew Rosati contributed to this report from Caracas. Vivian Sequera contributed from San Cristobal.

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

 
4-H members get ready for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
2 pursuits, 2 arrests keep Woodland officers busy

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

 
Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
MOMS Club plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6