Venezuela: Teen and woman shot dead in protests

Demonstrators clash with the police during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro called on Venezuelans to take to the streets on Wednesday for what they dubbed the "mother of all marches" against the embattled socialist leader. Rights group Penal Forum said more than 500 people were arrested in relation to Wednesday's protest and 334 remained in detention. Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, wore a gas mask as she waved a Venezuelan flag and walked toward a cloud of tear gas, an image captured in a video posted on her Twitter account. There were no other details immediately available.

Venezuela's defense minister on Monday declared the army's loyalty to President Nicolas Maduro, who ordered troops into the streets ahead of a major protest by opponents trying to oust him.

The opposition's mobilization comes amid weeks of protests as Maduro faces increasing scrutiny overseas and within his own government after the country's top court last month tried to grab power from the opposition-controlled congress. "When they took the young man to (a nearby clinic), the government supporters left".

The Supreme Court reversed its decision after three days, but it was too late to prevent a new wave of protests.

With its momentum renewed, the opposition is now pushing for Maduro's removal and the release of scores of political prisoners.

Marchers in the opposition demonstration in Caracas included Liliana Machuca, who earns about $20 a month holding two jobs teaching literature. Her face was covered in a white, sticky substance to protect herself from the noxious effects of tear gas. And Maduro said he wanted to expand that force, which is now in the tens of thousands, to half a million and they should all have guns.

"We were on a motorbike and they were following us, shooting", her boyfriend told Reuters.

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.

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

On Wednesday, Maduro tried to enlist supporters to defend the Bolivarian revolution against capitalism, calling pro-government citizens to the street to fight what he called a USA -backed coup. The opposition blames the deaths on security forces and alleged paramilitary groups.

Venezuelan presidential office showing suppoerters of President Nicolas Maduro rallying
Supporters of President Maduro have also been protesting

MARGARET WARNER: Maduro has blamed the US for trying to foment a coup.

Muchaco said that the hospitals in his jurisdiction were taking care of 57 people "from the demonstration", who tried unsuccessfully to reach the Ombudsman's Office in the centre of the Venezuelan capital here.

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

Demonstrators flee from riot police during a rally in Caracas on April 19.

He says the protests echo those of 2002 that led to a brief coup against his predecessor and mentor, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

He has also warned that an opposition government would slash social benefits like healthcare for the poor and subsidized food.

"We are concerned that the government of [President Nicolas] Maduro is violating the Constitution", said Tillerson.

The economic crunch took another turn this week as the government seized a General Motors plant, promoting the auto giant to say it was halting operations in Venezuela. The hour has arrived to decide the future and the destiny of our country.

The opposition called for another protest on Thursday, raising the specter of prolonged disruption in Venezuela. They were backed by 11 Latin American countries who issued a joint statement this week calling on authorities to set a time frame for elections to "allow for a quick solution to the crisis that Venezuela is living through".

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