Anti-government protesters block Venezuela streets with horses, bikes | News | DW | 14.05.2017
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Venezuela

Anti-government protesters block Venezuela streets with horses, bikes

Anti-government protests have stopped traffic throughout Venezuela, with demonstrators using cars, motorcycles and even horses to block streets. President Nicolas Maduro has refused calls for an early vote.

Venezuela has seen near-daily protests for weeks by both government supporters and opponents, as President Nicolas Maduro moves ahead with his attempt to change the constitution.

"We are going to stay in the street, building a way out of the crisis," opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara told the AFP news agency.

In the capital of Caracas, anti-government protesters attempted to clog 25 kilometers (16 miles) of a highway that leads to Vargas, but police fired tear gas into the crowd about two hours after the protest began. The crowd then dispersed.

There were clashes between protesters and police in other cities across the Latin American country on Saturday. Backers of President Maduro held their own rally in support of a proposed 500-member constituent assembly that would write a new constitution for the country.

Calls to resign

Opposing protests have flared up throughout Venezuela in recent weeks after the Supreme Court attempted to strip power from the opposition-controlled National Assembly in March. Maduro's opponents have called for early elections and for Maduro to step down.

At least 38 people have died since protests began in early April. The current protests are the largest in the country since 2014, when dozens of protesters died.

Venezuela is in the midst of a political and economic crisis, as residents wait hours for food and medicine. Inflation has jumped hundreds of percent, and crime has spiked. Maduro has blamed the current crisis on a US-backed conspiracy.

Maduro, who was selected by the late Hugo Chavez to lead Venezuela after his death, has refused to step down or hold early elections in spite of the protests. Maduro stood by his plans to overhaul the country's constitution on Saturday, addressing the protest in support of the government.

"I am just waiting for the day that the National Electoral Council sets the date for electing the national constituent assembly so people can come out and do justice with their votes," Maduro said during a speech on state TV.

kbd/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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