Five dead in Venezuela protests as movement grows stronger

Riot police fire tear gas during a rally against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas

Five dead in Venezuela protests as movement grows stronger

In a worrying sign for leftist President Nicolas Maduro, groups in low-income, traditionally pro-government neighborhoods took to the streets in nighttime protests during the typically calm Easter week, witnesses and opposition lawmakers reported.

The 32-year-old man died from a gunshot wound suffered during clashes on Tuesday night in the northwestern town of Cabudare, a spokesperson for the public prosecution service who asked not to be named told AFP.

The assault against Maduro comes as both protests and repression are intensifying in Venezuela, to the point both actions are nearly non-stop now: permanent demonstrations by the opposition and continuing, heavy-handed law enforcement - and now government paid gangs known as "colectivos" against protestors. He was shot at a protest in the central city of Barquisimeto Tuesday.

The opposition, which also accuses Maduro of installing a dictatorship, is demanding the authorities set a date for postponed regional elections.

The weekend protests were the latest demonstrations against Maduro's government, which has faced an increasing amount of opposition in the past week after officials attempted to strip the nation's legislature of its powers, only to abandon the plan following worldwide outrage.

"All this violence is erupting because they won't let the people have their say via elections", said the speaker of the opposition-majority legislature, Julio Borges, as he hand-delivered a petition to the National Guard headquarters calling on police to "stop the repression".

Dozens of people have been injured and more than 100 arrested over the past week in clashes in various cities, according to authorities.

Disapproval of Maduro's regime, which had already been high, recently surged after the government-controlled Supreme Court took over the National Assembly at the end of last month.

A teenage demonstrator has been killed during growing unrest in Venezuela, as political and economic crisis deepens.

No major protests were announced for yesterday, but opposition leaders called for huge rallies on April 19.

The protests have also claimed the lives of two college students and a 13-year-old. Opposition members also distributed a picture of an expired tear gas canister they said was found detonated at a previous demonstration. "We can't find food and sick people can't find medicine".

"We can not accept that the regime is willing to sacrifice Venezuelan lives to remain in power", said Luis Almagro, the head of the Organisation of American States, in a video posted on Wednesday, urging elections.

He has resisted opposition efforts to hold a referendum on removing him, vowing to continue the "socialist revolution" launched by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez.

"Despite the ruthless economic war, in conspiracy with local media and foreign news agencies, spurred by imperialists and their internal cronies. the revolutionary government has paid $2.557 billion", El Aissami said in a statement on Twitter.

"At peace", said protesting stay-at-home mother Aura Cuaita, 33.

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