[QODLink]
Americas

Venezuela cracks down on violent protests

President announces manhunt for opposition leader after latest demonstrations in Caracas and crime crackdown.

Last updated: 16 Feb 2014 09:00
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Venezuelan riot police have used teargas and water cannon to break up protests in the capital Caracas.

Violence broke out on Saturday after supporters and opponents of the Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro staged rival rallies, AFP news agency reported.

It was the latest in a wave of demonstrations that has left three people dead, 60 injured and about 100 arrested.

On Saturday Maduro told thousands of people attending his rally that a police manhunt was underway for the opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez.

He said Lopez had "ordered all these violent kids, which he trained, to destroy the prosecutor's office and half of Caracas and then goes into hiding".

He denounced what he called a US-backed "fascist" plot to oust him from power and challenged Lopez: "Turn yourself in coward."

Rules for television

On Saturday anti-government protesters threw objects and taunted the police, who responded with volleys of teargas and a water cannon truck, or "whale" as Venezuelans call it.

Most were students, who have spearheaded nearly two weeks of protests against Maduro. Rampant crime, soaring inflation and basic goods shortages are their main grievances.

The protesters have demanded that Maduro step down, although opposition leaders have said that political conditions are not favourable at present for the president's exit.

Seeking to quell the unrest, Maduro late on Friday announced a 10-point plan to crack down on crime that includes disarming the population, increased police patrols, as well as unspecified "clear rules for television".

In a statement on Saturday, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said: "We are alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. These actions have a chilling effect on citizens' rights to express their grievances peacefully."

Despite having the world's largest proven reserves of crude oil, the country has severe economic problems and a deep divide between rich and poor.

321

Source:
AFP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.