5 dead in Venezuela protests as movement gains steam

Barricades, arrests overnight as Venezuela protests spread to low-income areas

The next major organized rallies called by opposition leaders are set for April 19. Demonstrators and opposition leaders are angered at what they see as a government that no longer respects democratic institutions and is sliding toward authoritarianism.

Also, state security officials who threw similar chemicals into a clinic in Caracas.

The oil-rich but crisis-shaken South American country has been convulsed by escalating protests over the last two weeks amid a punishing economic recession and accusations that leftist President Nicolas Maduro has morphed into a dictator.

Regional elections were supposed to be held past year, but were postponed by the CNE, citing logistical conflicts with the recall referendum process, which was ultimately stalled in court over 53,658 fraudulent signatures collected by the opposition.

On Sunday, Maduro, who has accused the opposition of conspiring with global actors to create unrest in Venezuela, called for a return to dialogue and said he wants regional elections to take place.

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro are demanding that postponed regional elections must be held.

"That's the only way there will be peace in Venezuela", said Julio Borges, president of the National Assembly.

"Enough with impunity", he wrote. Many Venezuelans have taken to looking for food in the trash.

Another group of around 1,000 people was targeted by police with tear gas and rubber bullets as they marched from the east of the city toward a highway leading downtown.

Socialist Party officials tweeted Mr Maduro had been received by a cheering crowd in San Felix, while state television cut off the broadcast as his bodyguards appeared to be seeking to regain control.

Riot police in Caracas and other cities fired tear gas and water cannon at stone-throwing demonstrators, whose leaders vowed to keep up pressure on Maduro.

He rejected "the criminal habits" of Maduro, most specifically the order to fire tear gas at protesters from a helicopter.

Overall, the unrest has left one person dead and more than 100 detained.

It said 40 people will be charged for "acts of violence" in Monday's unrest.

"The Bolivarian government stands by its commitment to guarantee the tranquility and social wellbeing of our people", he said in announcing the detentions.

Those moves have raised global condemnation including from the United States and the European Union.

Venezuela's opposition was planning protests in each of the country's 335 municipalities on Thursday, in a bid to strain the capabilities of security forces as unrest mounted in the volatile nation.

The opposition is also furious over moves to limit the powers of the legislature and ban senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles from politics.

"Day after day, repression is increasing in Venezuela".



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