Venezuela's political opposition is maintaining pressure against the government through ongoing protests, even as clashes appear to be intensifying. The MUD coalition called for protests today, 13A.
Two protesters were killed Tuesday evening in the western city of Barquisimeto, bringing the total deaths of the latest wave of demonstrations up to four, reports the BBC. Witnesses describe confusing scenes of burning tires and clashes with security forces in working class neighborhoods in Caracas that have joined protests, reports Reuters.
The death of a 13 year old boy is blamed on armed government supporters or right-wing opposition protesters, depending on whose version you listen to.
About 70 people were arrested on Tuesday, according to the Penal Forum, part of what the opposition is calling a crackdown on dissent.
Videos circulating on social media and online channels show National Guard officers air dropping tear gas from helicopters into crowds of protesters, and other reports show black-clad groups of protesters throwing Molotov cocktails and attacking soldiers, according CNN.
In a press conference yesterday, the country's Roman Catholic leadership called for an end to "indiscriminate repression" on the part of the government, and "illegal groups" that act with impunity against opposition demonstrators, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
Later yesterday a group of men attempted to attack Caracas Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino while he officiated mass and called for the liberation of political prisoners, reports Efecto Cocoyo separately. Members of the political opposition had called for supporters to join the procession of Nazareno with Venezuelan flags as a symbol of protest, though Urosa called to avoid politicizing a religious event. The march was carried out later that afternoon without further incident, reports Efecto Cocuyo in another piece.
This latest round of protests is different, according to opposition leader Henrique Capriles who spoke to the Miami Herald's Andrés Oppenheimer. He points to factors such as the government's blocking of National Assembly initiatives and a recall referendum over the past year, and an increasing international pressure.
Speaking with Voice of America, David Smilde says Latin American leadership of the diplomatic push -- rather than U.S. protagonism -- has been key. And that the widespread international condemnation of the attempted dissolution of the National Assembly has combined with domestic pressure in a way that is more potent than in the past.
The New York Times has an in-depth analysis of how oil prices will likely force Venezuela into a disastrous default. Pdvsa honored a bond payment due yesterday, but at a high cost for the country which needs the dollars for food and medical imports, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
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