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Venezuela crisis: Teenager shot dead at Caracas protest

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Eleena Tovar | 23 Abril, 2017, 21:04

Protesters positioned themselves at 20 points in the historic center of Caracas were thousands of government supporter also gathered.

Socialist Party officials dismiss the opposition marches as efforts to destabilize the government, pointing to protester barricades and vandalism, and have called on supporters to rally around Maduro. As has become common in recent weeks on protest days, Venezuelan authorities will close 27 metro stations and likely set up checkpoints to slow entry to the city.

Of these, 33 people had multiple injuries, 10 with asphyxiation symptoms “as a result of tear gas” used by the police forces to disperse the protest, and 14 with “fainting and stress related problems, ” according to Muchacho, who belongs to the opposition.

The opposition wants Maduro's removed, new elections and the release of political prisoners, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was jailed in early 2014.

At least three people were killed in Venezuela when clashes broke out during anti-government protests described by opposition leaders as the "mother of all marches".

The economic crunch took another turn this week as the government seized a General Motors plant, promoting the auto giant to say it was halting operations in Venezuela. The president has said that beneath a peaceful façade, allegedly encouraged by the United States, the protests are nothing but opposition efforts to foment a coup to end socialism in Venezuela. The 23-year-old woman, Paola Ramirez, died after being shot in the head in the western city of San Cristobal, the state prosecution service said later in a statement.

Ricardo Rios, a mathematics professor at Central University in Caracas, said that Wednesday's march, organized by a coalition of opposition parties, was larger than the last major demonstration in September.

Wednesday's duelling marches drew parallels to the clashes between pro and anti-government protesters in 2002 that triggered a brief coup against late President Hugo Chavez.

The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay are "energetically condemning" the violence in Venezuela and lamenting that worldwide calls for the ongoing demonstrations to be peaceful have been ignored.

The march, which opposition leaders called "the mother of all rallies", took place in several states of Venezuela. "We need to face a critical situation, we are in a country that is collapsing", farmer Omar Leal, told Al Jazeera. It came in under Bank of America's $1 million contribution.

Instead, the protestors have been met by the full force of the government's military.

Venezuela benefited for years from oil-fuelled consumption and many poor citizens rose into the middle class.

MARGARET WARNER: These latest protests erupted last month, after the pro-government Supreme Court took over the powers of the national legislature controlled by the opposition. Over 400 people were arrested during protests on Wednesday, rights group Penal Forum said.

Translation: The Revolutionary People have overflowed the streets of Venezuela to defend the Homeland, President Maduro wrote. They dissolved the sitting parliament and passed all legislative powers to itself and, therefore, to Maduro.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed concerns to reporters Wednesday that the "government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people".