Thursday, August 18, 2022

Death toll of Venezuela protesters hits 32

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University students in Venezuela will lead a fresh round of marches against President Nicolas Maduro Thursday, a day after police fired tear gas and protesters hurled Molotov cocktails in rallies against his plan to rewrite the constitution.

Violence erupted in the latest of more than a month of clashes that prosecutors say have now killed 32 people in the oil-rich nation stricken by shortages of food, medicine and other basics.

Government forces used tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators marching along a highway in east Caracas, the prosecutor’s office said. Protesters fought back with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

More than 300 people were injured in Wednesday’s unrest, officials said.

The latest fatality was that of an 18-year-old male struck by a projectile.

Looting broke out for a second straight night in the northern city of Valencia.

In Caracas, at least one protester caught fire when other demonstrators set ablaze a military motorcycle. Another was struck by an armored car.

The clashes broke out after riot police blocked demonstrators from advancing towards government buildings in central Caracas, where Maduro addressed a rally of thousands of his supporters.

The opposition accuses the elected leftist president of maneuvering to strengthen his grip on power. He has for months been resisting calls for a vote on removing him from office as the country staggers under food shortages, a near-crippled state-run economy and one of the world’s highest inflation rates.

Daniel Ascanio, a student leader from Simon Bolivar University, told reporters that students will march from campuses Thursday around the country to demand “democracy and freedom.”

“We will be joined by unions, homemakers, and lawmakers. All sectors of society will mobilize to send a message to Maduro,” said Ascanio.

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