A woman holds up a sign reading “Freedom of speech is yours, defend it”, during a protest by newspaper workers and opposition parties in Caracas yesterday.
CARACAS: Venezuelan authorities have arrested another eight anti-government protesters, bringing to 19 the number being held amid street demonstrations that President Nicolas Maduro says are being orchestrated by foreign-backed “coup-seekers”.
Ten months after Maduro narrowly won an election to replace his mentor and late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, a hardline wing of Venezuela’s opposition is trying to whip up street protests over rampant crime, economic hardship and alleged state repression.
Maduro says extreme right-wing politicians backed by “imperialist” collaborators want to bring him down by undemocratic means. The protests have been sporadic and seldom drawn crowds of more than a few hundred, though activists were hoping for bigger numbers at a march planned for Wednesday in Caracas.
Opposition campaigners said police detained eight people in the western Andean town of Merida on Monday night after students rallied for the release of colleagues in jail elsewhere.
“They simply unfurled banners and handed out banners,” said Tamara Suju, a human rights campaigner who works with the Popular Will party that is promoting the anti-Maduro activism.
The eight in Merida would add to four from Tachira state, and seven from Margarita island, held after other recent demonstrations.