Venezuela regional election date set amid opposition rebuke

Frederick Owens
May 31, 2017

Up to 55 people have been killed during unrest in the past two months. Demonstrators have also destroyed at least five statues of Mr Chavez during the on-going protests.

After marches by various civil groups, it was the turn of the Venezuelan Medical Federation to vent its frustrations in the streets.

Almost 20.000 officials from the health system headed to the Caracas Ministry of Health while the guards were struggling to keep them away from the gates of the institution. Police fired tear gas to drive them back, in scenes that have become familiar after weeks of unrest.

"The country is heading for a catastrophe".

"One is always afraid to come out, but we will carry on doing it until there is a change". They blame Maduro for the economic crisis they say has caused shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies.

"A simple infection can turn into something serious for a lack of antibiotics and any kind of supplies, and for a lack of maintenance of the equipment", said Eliecer Melear, a 41-year-old urologist.

Current President Maduro has tried to paint a different mask on the counter movement in his country.

Mr Maduro signed the decree at a rally attended by thousands of his supporters.

Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader elected in 2013, paints the opposition as coup-mongers seeking to stoke violence and overthrow his "21st century Socialism".

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"Persuaded that the solution to the present situation had to be sought internally, supported by a mediated process, they were of the view that the deeply entrenched positions needed to be softened so that trust could be built on both sides in order to facilitate dialogue so that the people of Venezuela could peacefully overcome their crisis", the statement noted.

Mr Maduro accused protesters on Sunday of setting fire to a government supporter, saying what he calls "Nazi-fascist" elements are taking root in the opposition's ranks and contributing to a risky spiral of violence in the two-month anti-government protest movement.

In the lower middle-class Caracas neighborhood of El Paraiso, masked men on Monday night shot up an apartment building and parked cars in what one resident, who asked not to be named out of fear of reprisals, said was retaliation for nearby barricades set up by opposition sympathizers.

He said Figuera was hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns over half of his body and six knife wounds.

Opposition leaders say the project is a sham to avoid a general election and keep Maduro in power despite an oil-rich economy in a tailspin.

"We consider that the only organ the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's constitution empowers to interpret the constitution is the Supreme Court's constitutional chamber", he said at a news conference, in reference to the pro-government top court.

Despite the mounting outrage among Venezuelans, Maduro retains the military's public backing along with control of most state institutions.

The street clashes engulfing Venezuela appear to be turning increasingly violent, with security forces and youth protesters becoming more unruly.

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