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Venezuelans plead with military to end crackdown

May 15, 2017

Venezuelan mothers have marched to a military facility to demand an end to the "repressive" actions taken to quell protests. Opposition leaders have called on the armed forces to "open the doors of a sincere debate."

A Venezuelan mother stands up to soldiers with a shirt that read: "In Venezuela, there is nothing," higlighting chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods Foto: José Cohen/NOTIMEX/dpa
A mother stands up to soldiers with a shirt that reads: 'In Venezuela, there is nothing.'Image: Picture alliance/J. Cohen/NOTIMEX

Venezuela's opposition movement on Sunday called on the military to enter dialogue with societal forces amid a wave of near-daily protests.

After pledging loyalty to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro last year, the armed forces have effectively enforced a violent policy to curb opposition demonstrations.

According to opposition leaders, Maduro and his supporters met with Venezuela's defense minister to rally support behind the president's plan to form a constituent assembly tasked with rewriting the constitution.

"I am appealing to Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez to open the doors of a sincere debate in the armed forces," said Julio Borges, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

"If [key supporters and] Maduro have the right to give a partisan argument to the military on the chaos Venezuela is going through, we ought to have that right as well."

The OPEC nation has witnessed violent protests since the Supreme Court attempted to strip congress of its legislative powers in late March.

Venezuelans from all walks of life have taken to the streets to oppose what they see as increasingly-dictatorial maneuvers by Maduro, who was handpicked to lead the country in the wake of leftist firebrand leader Hugo Chavez's death.

'Lower your weapon'

On Sunday, a group of dozens of mothers marched to a command post of the national guard in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, demanding the country's armed forces end their "repressive" actions against protesters.

Mothers took turn reading an open letter to the armed forces to forsake their allegiance to Maduro's government and protect Venezuelans.

"Soldier, listen to your mother. They say that in the barracks, when the trumpet of the homeland calls, even the cries of mothers are silent. Today I am crying. Your homeland demands of you: no more, lower your weapon," the letter said.

Since April 1, more than 38 people have been killed and hundreds more injured and detained during anti-government protests. Maduro has attempted to quell the demonstrations and rally support by describing them as a US-led conspiracy to unseat him.

However, Maduro has failed to redress chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods and rising criminal violence.

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ls/cmk (EFE, AFP)