EU Condemns Venezuela Protest Crackdown

World | February 28, 2014, Friday // 12:50|  views

Members of the Venezuelan National Bolivarian Guard (GNB) clash with demonstrators during a protest against president Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, 27 February 2014. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The European Parliament has approved a resolution condemning the use of police force during protests in Venezuela.

The document demands that crackdowns on "peaceful demonstrations", as well as persecution and repression against opposition and protesters, be ceased immediately, Spanish newspaper El Mundo has reported.

Venezuelan authorities are called upon "to withdraw their unfounded accusations and arrest warrants" against protest leaders.

Unrest flared again in the country on Thursday night as about 200 demonstrators tried to block a highway and police used tear gas against them, Al Jazeera English reports.

Prior to the incidents, 2,000 to 3,000 people gathered in a wealthy neighborhood in the capital Caracas, a part of the city known as an opposition stronghold.

These numbers lagged behind the crowds that flooded streets in Caracas during the previous days, but this didn't prevent violence from surging.

Rallies were also held across the country in protest over food shortages and rising inflation. People expressed anger at the use of force by the police to disperse demonstrations.

Blockades set up over the last days were maintained by protesters outside Caracas, causing significant disruption of traffic, but also of industrial activity.

Earlier this week, President Nicolas Maduro announced he was calling a "peace conference" to put an end to the crisis, but opposition leaders are boycotting them.

Maduro puts the blame for the unrest at right-wing groups which, in his words, want a coup d'?tat, El Mundo reports.

At least 16 people have been confirmed dead in more than two weeks of unrest, with President Maduro putting the number at 50. Some human rights activists are raising the death toll to 100.

The surge of violence was sparked after the arrest of the far-right opposition politician Fernando Lopez on February 12.

Protesters, however, are not united in their demands, with some insisting on policy changes and others on toppling the government.

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Tags: Venezuela, Caracas, nicolas maduro, European parliament, protesters, Leopoldo Lopez


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