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Thousands March on Jailed Venezuelan Opposition Leader’s Demand

There is no sign of a truce between the country's opposition and pro-government groups.

by Leonardo Chiquillo
Feb 23 2014, 12:15am

Photo by Getty Images/Raul Arboleda

Saturday marks the 10th consecutive day anti and pro-government marches have shaken Venezuela. In Caracas, thousands of opposition members demonstrated in the streets during early hours of the morning following jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez’ demands for peaceful protests.

The city turned violent later in the afternoon as protesters were tear-gassed and told to disperse by the National Guard. No reports of injuries have been confirmed.

The Venezuelan city of Puerto Ordaz remained “militarised” on Feburary 22

San Cristobal, a city located in the state Tachira, has been highly affected by the protests, as the government has responded by blocking off the city from the rest of the country. Internet access has been revoked and electricity, gas and water are becoming unreliable, according to social media reports.

The death toll in Venezuela has climbed to 11 since the protests began last week, with an estimated 200 plus people injured to this date, Jorg Metzger, a journalist based in Valencia, told VICE News.

“In Venezuela, the situation is very tense,” Metzger said. “The opposition is fighting against government censorship, inflation, and a lack of food. People in Venezuela are starving and supermarket shelves stand empty.”

Venezuela has been facing severe food shortages as early as September of last year. Toilet paper, rice and coffee have long been missing from stores, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blames a CIA plot for chronic shortages. For a country that sits in one of the worlds largest oil reserves, the poor management of resources has been a heavy critique by opposition groups.

Inflation has affected Venezuela immensely, as it’s currently at the highest it’s ever been since the Chavez socialist-revolution began 15 years ago.

“Wages haven’t increased in Venezuela as rapidly as inflation continues to raise, everything in Venezuela is double the price as elsewhere,” Valencia resident Kristine Najjar told VICE News. But the Venezuelan government insists that there is no inflation problem.

With no sign of a truce between government and anti-government protestors, violence continues to surge. Opposition groups demand a restructuring of the social and economical state of the country, and pro-government groups call those who oppose the government fascist enemies of the state.

Student protesters marched through the streets of Maturin, Venezuela