Venezuelans pour into Caracas streets in anti-Maduro protest

A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in San Cristobal

Moderate opposition leader Henrique Capriles said the point is not the protests, it's the ultimate outcome.

"The only one who is disqualified in this country is you, Nicolas Maduro, you and the corrupt drug-trafficking leadership that is with you!"

The national comptroller banned him from office due to "administrative irregularities" including breaking contracting laws and improper management of donations from the British and Polish embassies, according to a copy of the ban. Maduro's opposition blames the violence on his political persecution.

Opposition protesters have said their demonstrations are being stymied by authorities closing subway stations and adding checkpoints on major highways.

"The dictatorship wants to choose its opposition". “We get scared or we conform, but one way or another, everyone just ends up going home.”.

"We are looking for all of them - we've identified them all", he said of opposition activists who had scattered after skirmishing with police.

Two-time presidential candidate and current Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles, who was seen by many as the opposition's best chance in the presidential election scheduled for 2018, was banned Friday from holding political office for 15 years.

He accused the government of running a smear campaign against him. Critics of President Nicolas Maduro accuse the government of stalling elections for state governors, which polls suggest would not go well for the ruling Socialist Party.

After this week's demonstrations, Maduro dismissed Capriles as "politically finished".

Thousands of Maduro opponents marched on Thursday to protest a decision by the administration leaning top court to assume control of the opposition-led congress in what demonstrators said was a lurch toward dictatorship.

The political tension did not subside in a week despite the Supreme Court's decision to walk back its Court controversial decision to suspend the National Assembly's right to legislate.

The rulings by the court, which has consistently ruled in Maduro's favour during the crisis, drew worldwide criticism of Maduro's camp.

The opposition is demanding the removal of seven Supreme Court justices who signed last week's sentence.

Venezuela, which has the world's highest inflation rate, is facing severe shortages of food, medicine, and basic household goods after a slump in global oil prices. The United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) is a command of more than 1200 military and civilians representing the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and other federal agencies.

"We're not only protesting Jairo's assassination, we're also protesting this coup, and we're asking for the opening of a humanitarian channel", said Carlos Arancibia, a 25-year-old writer demonstrating against Ortiz' death in a small march on Friday. Public prosecutors said they would charge a policeman over the killing.

As the most dominant figure in the opposition over the past decade, Capriles has been at the forefront of the protests, the most combative since a wave of anti-government unrest in 2014.

Lawmakers said Wednesday that the judges must be recalled because they supported an attempted coup.

"Maduro is scared that I will be the new commander in chief".

Capriles is a scion of one of Venezuela's wealthiest families, but his sometimes vulgar talk and mannerisms echo the late Chavez's populist style and he has tried to reach out to Chavez supporters.



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