Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Women in Venezuela march to send a message about country's political crisis

Women in Venezuela march to send a message about country's political crisis

Maduro's opponents accuse him of trying to strengthen his grip on power and delay elections by launching moves to rewrite the constitution.

The attorney general's office said yesterday that the number of fatal victims totalled 35 in the last month of clashes and protests while 717 have been wounded.

The incident took place on May 3 in the Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, when protesters chased riot police with sticks and stones, and authorities fired tear gas into the crowd, NBC News reports.

"President Maduro has made a big call to national dialogue", Delcy Rodriguez, the country's foreign minister, told diplomats at a meeting on Friday, showing them images of violence and vandalism on the streets caused by youths at the front of protests.

Women banged on pans and some stripped off their white shirts Saturday as they protested Venezuela's socialist government in an event the opposition billed as a "women's march against repression".

(AP Photo/Fernando Llano). Lilian Tintori, front fourth from right, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, leads a sit-in blocking the Franciso Fajardo highway after a women march against repression was blocked from reaching the Interior Mini.

Widespread protesting in the South American country has led to deaths of at least 37 people. An influential group of U.S. senators filed sweeping legislation on Wednesday to address the crisis in Venezuela, including sanctioning individuals responsible for undermining democracy or involved in corruption.

Mass protests erupted on April 1 by demonstrators demanding elections to remove President Nicolas Maduro.

The latest fatality, that of a 22-year-old man, occurred during looting in impoverished Venezuelan cities that have been hardest hit by a worsening economic crisis.

Opposition lawmakers briefly unfurled a banner on Friday at the National Assembly, where they won a majority in 2015 thanks to voter ire over the recession, saying "Maduro Dictator".

Venezuela's opposition alliance, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), has refused to participate in the drafting of a new constitution, MUD leader Henrique Capriles announced.

Maduro, backed by the Venezuelan military, is resisting.

Anger boiled over Friday in the western municipality of Rosario de Perija, where young protesters burned, pulled down and then smashed a statue of late leader Hugo Chavez, Maduro's late predecessor and mentor.

Opposition leaders say the constituent assembly is a biased mechanism created to keep an unpopular leader in power.

America's United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley said Saturday that Maduro´s "disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people has heightened the political and economic crisis in the country".

"The Maduro regime must respect Venezuela's constitution and the voice of its people".

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