Venezuela unrest worsens

February 21, 2014 - 6:08:08 am
CARACAS: Venezuelan security forces and demonstrators faced off in streets blocked by burning barricades in several cities yesterday in an escalation of protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, witnesses said.

At least five people have died since the unrest turned violent last week, with scores of injuries and arrests.

The demonstrators, mainly students, blame the government for violent crime, high inflation, product shortages and alleged repression of opponents.

In affluent east Caracas overnight, security forces fired teargas and bullets, chasing youths who threw Molotov cocktails and blocked streets with burning trash, witnesses said.

Residents in middle-class neighbourhoods banged pots and pans at windows in a traditional form of protest, and demonstrators were out again from early on Thursday.

“I declare myself in civil disobedience,” read one banner held up by demonstrators spread across a Caracas road.

There were similar scenes in the western Andean states of Tachira and Merida that have been especially volatile since hardline opposition leaders called supporters onto the streets in early February demanding Maduro’s departure.