The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Venezuelan protesters take to streets on first day of long holiday weekend set by government

  • Print

CARACAS, Venezuela - The start of a weeklong string of holidays leading up to the March 5 anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death did not completely pull protesters from the streets Thursday as the government apparently hoped.

Hundreds of students rallied on a leafy street in east Caracas demanding an end to the government crackdown on protests and the release of those jailed in recent weeks. When some of the protesters later moved toward a major highway, government security forces fired with tear gas.

In Valencia, about 105 miles (170 kilometres) west of the capital, protesters manned burning street barricades and clashed with police.

President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that he was adding Thursday and Friday to the already scheduled long Carnival weekend that includes Monday and Tuesday off, and many people interpreted it as an attempt to calm tensions.

Thursday's student protest was intended to send the government a message that demonstrators would not be distracted by a vacation.

"They want to demobilize us with this decree that joins Carnival with these two days commemorating the Caracazo," said student leader Juan Requesens, using the common term for a wave of anti-government protests in 1989.

"Maduro is mistaken," he added. "We're going to continue in the street, we're not going to leave our democratic fight for six days at the beach"

What began as student-led demonstrations this month in several cities have taken a toll that the government puts at 16 dead. The mostly middle class opposition joined the protests, but for the most part they have not expanded to poorer neighbourhoods where Maduro's support base resides.

The roadblocks, mostly in middle class neighbourhoods, have become just another irritation for some already frustrated by food shortages, soaring crime rates and inflation that hit 56 per cent last year.

"I'm fed up. I have an empty refrigerator and I can't even go to the supermarket because of this barricade," said Alma Castillo, a 33-year-old homemaker in Caracas. "I'm not a Chavista, but it's not fair that our own neighbours do this to us. The protest has to be organized and peaceful."

Protesters blocked streets in Valencia Thursday after clashes with police the night before in a working class neighbourhood left a bus and another vehicle burned.

Others in the well-off municipality of San Diego lined up for hours to buy scare basic necessities.

"This shouldn't continue like this," said engineer Armando Rodriguez, accompanied by his wife and two young children. They waited four hours to buy two chickens, which like corn flour, cooking oil and toilet paper have become hard to find.

___

Associated Press writer Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Valencia contributed to this report.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Blake Wheeler talks about past season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google