Protests mount in Venezuela after court’s power grab

Venezuela's pro-Maduro Supreme Court said on Wednesday it was assuming the legislature's functions because it was in "contempt" of the law. Foes lambasted that as a "coup" against an elected body.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Pro-government supporters clashed with opposition supporters during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government outside the Venezuelan Prosecutor's office in Caracas, Venezuela. March 31, 2017.

Updated Apr 1, 2017

Pockets of protesters blocked roads, unfurled banners and chanted slogans in Venezuela on Friday against President Nicolas Maduro's unpopular government after the Supreme Court took over the Congress on Wednesday.

The court has already overturned most decisions taken by the National Assembly since the opposition won a majority of seats in 2015. Critics accuse Maduro of using the judiciary to consolidate power and stifle opposition.

Venezuela's powerful attorney general on Friday broke ranks with Maduro's government, a rare show of internal dissent as protests and international condemnation grew.

Luisa Ortega, attorney general since 2007 and staunch ally of the Socialists who have ruled for the last 18 years, rebuked the Supreme Court's controversial move to take over the opposition-led National Assembly's functions.

Juan Carlos Lamas reports from Caracas, Venezuela.


In Caracas, several dozen students marched to the Supreme Court, but were pushed back by soldiers with riot shields.

Some protesters also briefly blocked highways in the capital, holding banners reading, "No To Dictatorship." Police moved them, and several were detained, according to a local human rights group

"We have to demand our rights, in the streets, without fear," said opposition lawmaker Miguel Pizarro, who led a knot of demonstrators into a subway train.

In volatile western Tachira state, several dozen demonstrators tore up copies of court sentences in front of local judicial buildings.


TRTWorld and agencies