2017-04-23 03:29:32 UTC
The smell of tear gas and smoke from fires filled the air in several
Caracas neighbourhoods on Friday after a night that saw at least 12
people die. In the humble district of El Valle, people screamed,
while the sound of gunshots sent neighbours and protesters running for
Protesters are vowing to continue their opposition to the government
of President Nicolas Maduro, after the deadliest day in three weeks of
one anti-government protest after another.
Among the dead were eight people who were electrocuted in a bakery as
it was being looted. About 20 have died in the past month, most shot
in the head.
"This was like the wild, Wild West. During two hours we could only
hear gunshots and detonations," said Ana Tiapa, 36, a resident of El
Valle. "Two hours this lasted, then, you could only hear people
running in and out of businesses; the sound of looting."
A shopkeeper surveys damage to his shop after looting in Caracas
Thursday night and Friday morning. (Reuters)
The violence played out in at least five locations in the Venezuelan
capital, beginning at sundown after the opposition called for more
street protests to pressure the government of President Nicolas
Life is difficult in Venezuela
A Supreme Court decision that stripped the opposition controlled
National Assembly of its powers on April 4 began the series of
protests. The court later reversed its decision, but the unrest had
begun, as life has become increasingly difficult in the formerly
Venezuelans face inflation that hit 550 per cent in 2016, according to
Congressman Jose Guerra, though the government cites an IMF estimate
of 274 per cent.
Shortages of food and medicines have people waiting in long lines to
buy something as simple as sugar or soap.
Michelle Mijares, a 23-year-old nurse, says street demonstrations seem
the only way to apply pressure to this government.
"You can see people are very upset, and right now, we are ready for
anything," she said.
National Guard steps in
On Tuesday, Maduro announced he was placing state police departments
under National Guard control, further militarizing the country.
Venezuela Political Crisis
A demonstrator stands in front of a Bolivarian National Guard armored
vehicle blocking its way during anti-government protests in Caracas,
Venezuela, on Wednesday, April 19. (Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press)
The government has also taken over or blocked all media, making it
difficult to confirm news, including the number of dead. Twitter is
the main source of information in the country, with journalists using
it to send out information and protestors using it to let others know
what is happening on the ground.
On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of people marched in 20 different
locations in the capital, resulting in a rain of tear gas and rubber
bullets from the National Guard.
Government supporters and opposition activists screamed at each other
and security forces blocked demonstrators as they tried to reach the
More than 200 people were injured and a 17-year-old boy was fatally
shot in the head by armed groups that support the government,
according to witnesses.
"I'm sick and tired," said 21-year-old medical student Leonel Bolivar.
"There is no food and no medicines for all future patients I will
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The MUD, a coalition of opposition political parties, announced a new
protest for Saturday to honour those who were murdered in the past
Those protests, which involved thousands holding white flowers, were
mostly peaceful, but also drew a heavy police presence.
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