Venezuela on edge as violent protests continue

Anti-Maduro protests surge in Caracas as members from the 34-nation Organization of American States bloc meet in Washington DC to discuss the crisis.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Opposition Deputy Carlos Paparoni is hit by a jet of water during riots at a march to the state ombudsman’s office in Caracas, Venezuela on May 29, 2017.

Venezuelan security forces used water cannons and teargas to disperse tens of thousands of opposition protesters heading toward the foreign ministry on Wednesday as the Organization of American States (OAS) held another meeting on the crisis in Washington.

At least 60 people have been killed during protests in the past two months.

The opposition has vowed to continue their daily marches until President Nicolas Maduro resigns and fresh elections are held.

Venezuela is also in the midst of an economic crisis, marked by spiralling inflation and widespread shortages.

TRT World spoke to journalist Juan Carlos Lamas in Caracas who explains how that's spurring on the protesters.

With international pressure mounting on Maduro, foreign ministers from the 34-nation OAS bloc were meeting in Washington DC on Wednesday to debate the situation in Venezuela.

When that meeting was announced last month, Venezuela said it was withdrawing from the OAS in protest.

Maduro, 54, accuses opponents of seeking his violent overthrow with US support, similar to a short-lived 2002 coup against his popular predecessor Hugo Chavez.

He has called for the creation of a super-body, or constituent assembly, with powers to rewrite the constitution, in voting set for the end of July.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan is there with more on the diplomatic efforts now under way.

Four years of recession caused by failing socialist economic policies plus the decline in global oil prices have battered Venezuela's 30 million people.

It has also made Maduro deeply unpopular, with plenty of people within the ruling "Chavista" movement questioning the constituent assembly given that Chavez himself had the constitution re-written in 1999.

Venezuela's opposition is refusing to participate, saying the vote set for July is a sham, with biased rules to ensure the body is filled with Maduro supporters.

They fear a new assembly could then skew the rules for governors' elections in December of this year and the presidential vote slated for late 2018.

Polls show the government would lose any conventional vote.

As well as deaths, the unrest in Venezuela has led to hundreds of injuries and, according to local rights group Penal Forum, nearly 3,000 people arrested of whom 1,351 remain held.

TRTWorld and agencies