Clashes erupt at 'mother of all protests' in Venezuela

Opposition demonstrators clash with riot police during the so called "mother of all marches" against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, April 19, 2017. Facing this danger, the government has a right and duty to defend the Constitutional order and the people against a coup.

A 23-year-old woman, Paola Ramirez, died after being shot in the head in the western city of San Cristobal, the state prosecution service said later in a statement.

"We are concerned that the government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people", U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday at the State Department.

Saab's office said he would not comment on the case while investigations were taking place.

"This is exhausting - but we won't give up until we achieve a better country and democracy", Luiza Mayorca, a lawyer and mother of three, told NPR's Phil Reeves in Caracas.

But the throngs of protesters weren't well-payed US plants but Venezuelan citizens braving tear gas to protest a government that has overseen hyperinflation, food and medicine scarcity, years of recession, continually delayed elections, alleged vice presidential drug trafficking, and a president who seems unwilling or unable to respond to any of the above.

"If they ask for Maduro or for the people of Venezuela, tell them they are on the streets commanding", Maduro said.

Pro-government militias, some of whose members were armed, were blamed for the two deaths, including that of a teenager in Caracas who was heading to a soccer game with friends.

A dual Venezuelan-American citizen, Maria Rivera-Novoa, also a Portland State/Portland Community College dual enrollee, said that the slide toward dictatorship in the country was not so obvious.

The Venezuelan President, Nicholas Maduro, has criticized eleven other countries for "rude meddling" ahead of planned protests against his government.

The opposition will congregate at more than two dozen meeting points around Caracas and attempt to converge on the office of the state ombudsman, a guarantor of human rights.

The court partly backtracked after an global outcry, but tension only increased when authorities slapped a political ban on opposition leader Henrique Capriles on April 7.

Venezuela has been facing a wave of protests across the country in recent months after the decision of the Supreme Court to take on functions of the country's parliament controlled by opposition.

Late Tuesday, on national television, Maduro reasserted his earlier claims that the United States is behind opposition marches, saying the U.S. State Department had given the green light for a coup attempt. Chavez built up the militias to augment Venezuelan armed forces in defense of foreign and domestic opponents.

Venezuela's economy shrank a massive 18% last year - its third year of recession and it's expected to be in the red this year, and next too. But the 2014 collapse in oil prices left the government unable to maintain a complex system of subsidies and price controls.

"This was supposed to be a happy moment but instead I came home to see my brother die", said Sojo, who grew up in the Romero home and returned Tuesday from Ecuador, where he had been living the past year.

The opposition call became even stronger when, on April 7, the government notified main opposition leader Henrique Capriles that he had been banned from doing any political work for 15 years. "We're poorer every day".

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