Venezuelans march in memory of those killed in unrest


Thousands of Venezuelans have staged a “silent” march in Venezuela’s capital Caracas and other cities to pay tribute to the 20 people who have been killed in political violence in the country in recent weeks.

The protesters, dressed in white shirts, marched peacefully to the headquarters of Venezuela’s Catholic bishops’ confederation on the west end of Caracas on Saturday, carrying Venezuelan flags.

The rally came amid weeks of turmoil and protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, whose failure to address the acute economic crisis in the country as well as to meet opposition demands has led to the upheaval in the Latin American country.

“We’ve got nothing left to lose. The government has already taken everything, all possibility of living our lives with dignity,” said a 33-year-old protester attending the Saturday march. “The government has to back down. It has to listen to the people.”

Similar demonstrations were also held in the other Venezuelan cities of Maracaibo, Barquisimeto, and San Cristobal, with no major violence reported between police and the protesters in those rallies, either.

Over the weekend, at least 12 people lost their lives during clashes in the capital, and eight others were reportedly electrocuted in a looting incident after a protest.

The opposition claims that the government in Caracas has hired armed gangs to foment violence in the country, while Maduro’s government accuses the right-wing opposition forces of working with criminal gangs in an attempt to remove the leftist leader from power.

Anti-government protests intensified in Venezuela on April 1, when the Supreme Court decided to strip Congress of its powers. The court later reversed that decision but protests have continued.

The embattled Maduro is blamed for Venezuela’s economic woes. People have been facing acute shortages of foodstuffs and medicine in recent months. Lootings have been repeatedly happening in the country. This is while Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves.

Maduro has also increasingly been accused of a lack of tolerance for dissent.

He says the opposition is working at the behest of the United States to unseat him.