Venezuelans gear up for major march against Maduro

Demonstrators clash with riot police during the so-called mother of all marches against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Wednesday

In a televised speech Tuesday night, Maduro ordered security forces to go on high alert, alleging - as he often does - that the opposition is colluding with the United States to overthrow him.

After nearly three weeks of anti-government protests on the streets of Venezuela and coupled with Wednesdays figure, the current death toll has increased to eight people, including one police officer, and nearly one thousand people have been arrested.

Thousands of Venezuelans poured into the main streets of Caracas on Wednesday, with rival camps demonstrating support for and against President Nicolas Maduro and his socialist policies.

The opposition has accused Maduro of letting state forces and gangs of armed thugs violently repress demonstrators as he resists opposition pressure for him to quit.

Maduro claims recent protests are nothing more than opposition efforts to stir up violence and topple his government.

Citing the need to maintain order, the Venezuelan government took extraordinary measures to limit the size of Wednesday's opposition march, cutting subway service and setting up roadblocks along highways. "If we were millions today, tomorrow we will be more". Her face was covered in a white substance to protect herself from the noxious effects of what she expected would be another day of dodging tear gas canisters.

Moreno's sister, Alejandra, said Carlos studied economics at Venezuelan Central University in Caracas.

Demonstrators are converging from 26 different points spread across the capital to attempt to march downtown to the Ombudsman's office.

Maduro, however, has said the USA government has simply given the green light for a coup in Venezuela. He made the comment before thousands of rifle-carrying members of the pro-Maduro "Bolivarian militia", who cheered with fists raised at a rally outside the presidential palace.

They range from a decision three weeks ago by the government-stacked Supreme Court to strip the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers after a year-long power battle, to the supply of medicines and basic supplies, food shortages, triple-digit inflation and rampant crime. A second guardsman was wounded by a bullet; both were shot during "violent protests" in Los Salias, south of Caracas, according to Saab.

Jani Mendez, who said her brother has been jailed in Venezuela, called on other countries to intervene in the country while at the rally in Doral.

At least two Venezuelans have been killed in clashes on the sidelines of mass anti-government protests.

In the culmination of a fortnight of violent demonstrations that killed five people, marchers around the country will demand the government present a timeline for delayed elections, halt a security crackdown on protests, and respect the autonomy of the opposition-led legislature.

Opponents are now pushing for Maduro's removal through early elections and the release of scores of political prisoners.

Clashes were reported across the country during the most sustained protests since 2014.

Maduro has charged that the opposition is trying to relive the 2002 coup against Chavez, his predecessor and mentor.

There was also concern that Wednesday's duelling marches could lead to clashes after the No. 2 socialist leader, Diosdado Cabello, said 60,000 die-hard government supporters would circulate on motorcycles to prevent the opposition from reaching its planned destination.

On Wednesday afternoon Maduro addressed a cheering red-shirted crowd in Caracas to declare that a "corrupt and interventionist right-wing" had been defeated. "It's time that they demonstrate they are on the side of the constitution and the people".

'I've just graduated and what I've got in the bank isn't enough for a bottle of cooking oil, ' said Gregorio Mendoza, a 23 -year-old engineer in Puerto Ordaz.



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