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Maria Corina Machado: 'This is about freedom'

Venezuelan opposition politician discusses the recent protests in her country and shares her vision for its future.

Last updated: 22 Mar 2014 08:56
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Maria Corina Machado is relentless; a fierce adversary of Venezuela’s leftist government, the congresswoman leads a hard-line wing of the opposition, and is simultaneously admired and loathed like few other Venezuelan politicians.

Even her detractors concede that she is gutsy. Machado scored points when she confronted deceased President Hugo Chavez during a state of the nation address.

We want and we will fight for a transition [to] democracy ... with a civic movement that grows every day.

Maria Corina Machado

As an opposition member of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Machado is a fierce anti-communist who never tires of denouncing Cuba's strong influence in the government.

And more recently, the 46-year-old has been one of the most visible leaders in six weeks of opposition demonstrations against the government that have unleashed the country's worst unrest in a decade.

When students began protesting in late February against violence and shortages, Machado called for all Venezuelans to take to the streets to force out Chavez's democratically elected successor, Nicolas Maduro.

While she proclaims her movement is made up of peaceful protesters, scores have been killed in clashes with government supporters and security forces.

And now there are some opposition voices saying that the demonstrations are hurting the country, while others question their agenda.

Explaining the violence during the current protests, Machado says: "Any expression of violence favours the government, and I ask you, who has the arms in Venezuela, and who has the language of hatred and division? It is the regime. You cannot find one single political leader in the opposition that has talked about violence or confrontation."

Machado's closest opposition ally, Leopodo Lopez, is under arrest, accused of inciting violence, and now Venezuela's Congress is also investigating Machado, claiming that she too is guilty of treason.

This week, as Venezuela's unrest continues and the future of the country seems unclear, we ask: What is next for Venezuela? What are the opposition and students demanding from the government? And will these protests lead to change?

We discuss this as Maria Corina Machado, a protest leader and member of Venezuela's parliament, talks to Al Jazeera.

Talk to Al Jazeera  can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430 .  

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