The latest in a month of endless protests, clashes have turned incredibly violent in Venezuela. Police are officially hurling molotov cocktails and firing tear gas at protestors who are against President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution.
The oil-rich nation is also stricken by food shortages, and about 32 people are said to have died from hunger. The protests are also resulting in a large number of injured.
The latest protest saw two protestors set on fire by police, and several lawmakers hurt as they tried to get from place to place.
“The (deceased) young man sustained serious neck trauma that sent him into shock and then heart failure,” Gerardo Blyde, mayor of the capital’s Baruta district, said without specifying what struck the victim.
Yahoo! News has the rest of the story:
Clouds of grey smoke from tear gas canisters filled the air as police with riot shields and trucks advanced along a major avenue in the east of the capital.
Protesters hurled stones and set fire to barricades. Officers fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon to push them back.
Protesters were enraged by the socialist president’s launching of procedures by the electoral council to draw up a new constitution.
“I am convening a national constituent assembly of citizens with deep popular involvement so that our people… with their voice can decide the destiny of our homeland,” he said in a speech at the council.
Private polls indicate that more than 70 percent of those interviewed do not support Maduro, who was elected in 2013 to succeed his late mentor Hugo Chavez.
Maduro said the constitutional reform body would not include political parties with seats in the opposition-controlled National Assembly, but representatives of social groups traditionally loyal to him.
His center-right opponents and some international powers said the move is an attempt to dodge local elections this year and a presidential poll set for late 2018.
“It is a fraud by Maduro’s side,” said the president’s most prominent opponent, senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
“Since they cannot win elections, they want to impose the Cuban electoral model to keep themselves in power,” he said.
Cuba, the sole one-party communist regime in the Americas, is Maduro’s closest ally.
Maduro’s own attorney general, Luisa Ortega, is unpopular with dissidents for her prosecution of opponents of the Maduro government.
Yet she surprised many in March condemning as a break in constitutional order the High Court’s suspension of the national assembly — the only body not in the hands of Maduro supporters.
And Ortega told the Wall Street Journal that the government should ensure people’s right to demonstrate freely, without arbitrary arrests.
“We can’t demand peaceful and legal behavior from citizens if the state takes decisions that” are not in line with the law, she told the Journal.
She said that Maduro’s bid to rewrite the constitution was off-base. “This constitution is unbeatable,” she said of the 1999 Hugo Chavez version.