Water Cannons, Tear Gas Repel Venezuela Anti-Maduro ProtestBy and
Demonstrators attempted to march across capital to Congress
Opposition demanding elections, new Supreme Court judges
Hundreds of demonstrators clashed with Venezuelan security forces Tuesday as they tried to rally behind lawmakers locked in a bitter dispute with the administration of President Nicolas Maduro and the Supreme Court.
The opposition-controlled National Assembly had called for the march ahead of a vote by lawmakers to remove members of the country’s top court, less than a week after judges attempted to seize the power of Congress. The protest was the most violent since hundreds of thousands flooded the capital last year demanding the embattled president’s ouster.
Tuesday’s vote was canceled after national guardsmen blocked the marcher as they attempted to cross Caracas’s main avenue, using teargas, pepper spray and water cannons to disperse the crowds. Ramon Muchacho, mayor of the Caracas Municipality of Chacao -- an opposition stronghold -- reported nine injuries including a gunshot victim, after the clashes with police and a rival protest by government sympathizers.
The Supreme Court rolled back part of last week’s controversial ruling that sought to neuter the National Assembly after the opposition and foreign leaders qualified it as an attempted “self-coup” by Venezuela’s embattled president. The opposition has since promised to purge institutions of government loyalists as they seek to put an end to nearly two decades of socialist rule.
Member’s of Maduro’s party have cast the opposition’s efforts as little more than political theater.
“Today the National Assembly tried to mount a new show,” Diosdado Cabello, a congressmen and the ruling socialist party’s No. 2, said to a crowd of government supporters in downtown Caracas. “The only coup here is against President Nicolas Maduro.”