Anti-Government Protesters in Venezuela Come Under Fire of President Supporters

Mariangel Urdaneta who came to Canada from Venezuela in 2007 said Canada’s more restrictive immigration selection criteria in recent years has meant most Venezuelans can only come now as refugees

Riot police in Caracas and other cities fired tear gas and water cannon at stone-throwing demonstrators, whose leaders vowed to keep up pressure on Maduro.

As angry public demonstrations spread in Venezuela, following the virtual abolition of the nation's parliament, the country's Catholic bishops warned against a slide "toward dictatorship", and backed peaceful protests.

The announcement comes as secretary general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, has attracted criticism from Caracas and its allies for trying to invoke the organization's "Democratic Charter" against Venezuela for its economic and political crisis, which would trigger its suspension form the bloc. Government forces threw tear gas canisters from helicopters to deter protesters. He said 134 people remain detained, eight of whom he said are considered political prisoners.

But the crisis only deepened Friday (7 April) when authorities banned senior opposition figure Henrique Capriles from holding public office.

Protesters are complaining about the risen corruption rates and the shortages of medicines and food.

Sucre added. The incident drew immediate parallels with a year ago, when authorities briefly rounded up more than 30 people on Margarita island for heckling Maduro, a rare sight given that the president's appearances typically are carefully choreographed and show only cheering supporters wearing red shirts.

The protests were triggered by the Supreme Court's decision to gut the opposition-controlled legislature of its last vestiges of power, a move that was later reversed amid widespread global condemnation and even dissent within Maduro's normally disciplined socialist leadership.

Last year, the opposition launched an abortive attempt to force Maduro out of office by seeking to hold a recall referendum.

Venezuela has come under increased pressure over the past weeks not just from the OAS, but also American and European countries that have condemned its crackdown on the opposition.

Another 19-year-old man, Jairo Ortiz, died on Thursday after being shot in the chest when police broke up a protest in Caracas.

Nine people, including two teenagers, were arrested for breaking into an office of the Supreme Court and vandalising it at the end of Saturday's march.

Earlier, the President called on the opposition to return to efforts at dialogue and said he was eager for regional elections to take place, but opposition leaders renewed calls to take to the streets, saying Mr Maduro's words had no credibility until a full election timeline was formally established.

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