GM Says Its Plant In Venezuela Was Illegally Seized By The Government

Thousands of demonstrators rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas

The Supreme Court's decision has energized Venezuela's fractious opposition, which had been struggling to channel growing disgust with Maduro over widespread food shortages, triple-digit inflation and rampant crime.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused a foreign-owned telecommunications firm of helping to orchestrate mass protests against his government.

Earlier Thursday police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up thousands of marchers as they reached a vital freeway in Caracas, then edged back slightly as masked protesters pelted them with stones and Molotov cocktails.

"It's time for the armed forces to realize that they're protecting corrupt leaders and not the Venezuelan people", said opposition lawmaker Jorge Millan, who represents part of the poor hilltop Caracas neighborhood of 23 de Enero, once a government stronghold.

"The opposition's response to regional elections, which the National Electoral Council will probably call in the coming days, will be key to maintaining momentum in the streets".

A demonstrator uses a riot police shield during clashes with security forces while rallying against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, April 20, 2017. Another wave of anti-government unrest in 2014 resulted in more than 40 deaths and dozens of arrests.

There were also late-night barricades and some looting in Caracas' middle class neighbourhood of El Paraiso on Wednesday night.

The European Union is calling for an investigation into the deaths and other violence during anti-government demonstrations in Venezuela and for those responsible to be held accountable. On Wednesday alone, more than 500 protesters were arrested nationwide, according to Penal Forum, a local NGO that provides legal assistance to detainees.

The unrest was sparked by a Supreme Court decision last month to strip Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress of its few remaining powers, a move that was later reversed amid a storm of worldwide criticism.

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The protesters on Wednesday evening chanted "Thief, Murderer, Erdogan" and "Don't be silent, shout out, "no" to the presidency". The board's decision to accept ballots without official stamps was like "changing the rules midgame", he said.

The recent large-scale protests erupted after Maduro's administration barred opposition leader Henrique Capriles from holding political office for the next 15 years.

Polls say 75 percent of Venezuelans want Maduro gone, but about 20 percent support him. Although she doesn't expect change overnight, she said protesting is the only option the opposition has against an entrenched, increasingly repressive government. Tens of thousands of protesters asking for the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro.

The South American country has the world's largest oil reserves and once commanded a booming economy, but many Venezuelans accuse Mr Maduro of pilfering the nation's wealth.

The comment provoked the ire of Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez who challenged Washington's moral authority to interfere in the South American nation's internal affairs. That effort ultimately faded amid protester fatigue and a heavy state crackdown.

"People are sick of this. we've touched rock bottom". Still, many vehicle makers have stayed put in case the economy experiences a turnaround.

The government said those taking to the streets were "terrorists" who were plotting to oust the president in a coup.

Maduro critics increasingly doubt that the ruling Socialist Party, which was soundly defeated in 2015 legislative elections, will allow for free and fair elections.

Last year, authorities seized a plant owned by US -based multinational Kimberly-Clark, renaming it after a 16th-century indigenous leader who rebelled against Spanish colonial rule.

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