domingo, 16 de febrero de 2014

Protests continue in Venezuela, President threatens "more revolution"

Student protests against Venezuela's socialist government continued on 15 and 16  February in spite of intermittent arrests and use of tear gas, while officials duly repeated President Nicolás Maduro's allegations that a coup was afoot, possibly fomented from abroad. There were protests, blockades or intermittent clashes with state forces in Caracas, Valencia, in the eastern state of Táchira and in Chacao outside the capital, while the Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres blamed the violence on unspecified infiltrators at protests, Europa Press reported on 16 February. He said the Government was considering withdrawing national forces from Chacao, which is in the state of Miranda governed by the opposition, telling the state government to take responsibility for its residents' security. The prominent opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado posted a picture of a "large" and peaceful demonstration in support of students in Caracas, apparently on 16 February, and wrote on her Twitter account that day that protests would continue. According to Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe, the latest protests were a reaction to President Nicolás Maduro's threat to "take the revolution to beyond the limits" if there were an attempted "fascist coup" against the Government. "I am not going to resign because this power does not belong to me, but to the people...Nothing will take me off the path to construct the Bolivarian Revolution," he told a gathering in the capital. He blamed opponents for "any violence that happens from this day on...come pick up your crazies, control your crazy people." Mr Maduro once more accused Colombia's former conservative president Álvaro Uribe Vélez of "financing the fascist currents in Venezuela that have generated violent actions and are pushing for a coup." Mr Uribe has not hidden his sympathies for the liberal and conservative opposition in Venezuela, but has always dismissed the claims made against him. On 15 February he said he would seek one million signatures in Colombia in support of "democracy" in Venezuela and "in solidarity with the...Venezuelan people, being mistreated by the Castro-Chavista dictatorship ...Maduro is extending." Speaking in the northern city of Barranquilla, Mr Uribe said those who wanted to sign could do so at the offices of his party, the Democratic Centre.