The U.S. secretary of state says the Trump administration is concerned about the political turmoil in Venezuela and feels socialist President Nicolas Maduro is trying to squash the voice of his opponents.
Tens of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded the streets of Caracas amid confusion and tear gas Wednesday for what they've dubbed the "mother of all marches" against the embattled socialist leader.
At least one protester was shot Wednesday as "the mother of all marches" gathered momentum amid sporadic clashes and bursts of tear gas. Journalists waited outside the clinic for reports on his condition.
Carlos Romero, just three days away from celebrating his 18th birthday, was walking home from a soccer game when he bumped into pro-government militias stalking a small pocket of protesters, a close family friend, Melvin Sojo, told The Associated Press at the hospital where doctors tried in vain to save the boy's life. Moreno was shot in the head, they said. "This cheating government has betrayed us, the people, the children in the family".
In many cases protests have ended with youths throwing rocks squaring off against security forces spraying tear gas in melees that have dragged on well into the evening.
The court quickly rolled back on the move in the face of an global outcry, but it breathed new life into the fractured opposition movement.
But it had the added effect of energizing Venezuela's fractious opposition, which had been struggling to channel growing disgust with Maduro over widespread food shortages, triple-digit inflation and rampant crime. The government has repeatedly blocked any attempts by the opposition to oust Maduro from power by a referendum vote.
Opposition marchers included Liliana Machuca, who earns about $20 a month holding two jobs teaching literature.
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Machuca said during Wednesday's march says she doesn't expect change overnight, but believes that protesting is her only option after all the abuses she says have been committed by the government.
Many were state workers, like Leidy Marquez, who was bused in from Tachira state, on the other side of the country, along with co-workers at state-run oil giant PDVSA.
Maduro was expected to address supporters at a rival march Wednesday in Caracas.
"I have made a decision to launch strategic, special, civil and military plan to ensure the functioning of our country, its security, internal order and social integrity", Maduro said late on Tuesday, as quoted by the state Venezuelan TV broadcaster.
The countries, who jointly expressed their concerns in the Colombian capital Bogota, "reiterate their rejection of violence" and said to "lament and reject the death of six citizens in the series of protests".
The center-right opposition is protesting against moves by authorities to tighten Maduro's grip on power.
Political turmoil in Venezuela reached the boiling point at the end of last month after the supreme court ruled it would take on the functions of the opposition-led National Assembly. He has also warned that an opposition government would slash social benefits like healthcare for the poor and subsidized food.
Maduro said he hopes to expand the number of civilians involved in the Bolivarian militias created by the late Hugo Chavez to 500,000, up from the current 100,000, and provide each member with a gun. The opposition called this big demonstration and said, all over the country, we need to be protesting against the government.
Anti-government protesters have described it as Venezuela's "second independence day", while government supporters say they are defending the country and its oil industry.