Relatives of jailed Venezuelan dissident seek global action


Right-wing leaders say that the intention of the constitutional process called by Maduro is to delay regional and municipal elections slated for this year.

(AP Photo/Fernando Llano). Women raise their hands with the words "No more repression" written on the palms during a march in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 6, 2017.

The demonstration convened by the UCV was dispersed by the National Guard (GNB) with tear gas and, according to Requesens, also with rubber bullets and marbles.

Women took over streets in major cities all around the South American country, including the capital Caracas.

The women said they were standing up against political oppression and violence, as weeks of unrest in the country continues.

"Eighty percent of Venezuelans want elections as a way out of our nation's grave economic and political crisis", Ernesto Padrino, cousin of Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, wrote on Facebook, according to The Guardian.

The president of the committee created by Maduro for the activation of the Constituent Assembly, Elías Jaua, said on Sunday that they invited different sectors of Venezuelan civil society including the opposition, to explain the scope of the proposal.

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"This march is against opposition terrorism, they are destroying everything", said cook Fredesvilda Paulino, 54, at a pro-government rally also in Caracas on Saturday where red-shirted women waved pro-Maduro flags and banners.

"We are deeply concerned about the Maduro government's violent crackdown on protesters in Venezuela", the statement said.

While the opposition was keeping up momentum, it was unclear how the protests could achieve their aims after demonstrations in 2014 failed to dislodge Maduro.

In total, 37 people have died and around 800 have been injured in fighting in the country between security forces and protesters since the start of April.

The crackdown by security forces is the bloodiest since Lopez led weeks of protests in 2014, for which he was jailed and later sentenced to almost 14 years for what are widely seen as trumped-up charges of inciting violence.

She told the Wall Street Journal that the government should ensure people's right to demonstrate freely, without arbitrary arrests. Nicolás Maduro, Chavez's hand-picked successor, presides over a broken nation of some 30 million people, most of whom are barely scraping by, desperate for food and medicine, fearful for their safety, and angered by their government's erosion of democratic safeguards.