U.S. 'concerned' about Venezuela mass protests after boy, woman killed

VENEZUELA-POLITICS  PROTESTS

Government supporters and security forces on Wednesday succeeded in blocking marchers from reaching certain parts of the city, according to observers.

By several media accounts, hundreds of thousands of anti-Maduro demonstrators flooded city streets to protest bread scarcity, ballooning inflation - which several estimates peg at triple digits - and what they see as an increasingly dictatorial regime.

A demonstrator carries Venezuela's flag while clashing with riot police during the so-called "mother of all marches" against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela Apr 19, 2017.

In the aftermath of the renewal of mass protests in Venezuela, a failing state that each day finds itself stumbling closer toward complete anarchy, one can't help but feel powerless when reports of tear gas flooding the streets of Caracas make headlines across the world.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro uses binoculars during a rally in Caracas on April 19, 2017. Tens of thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded the streets of vehicle.

GM has about 2,700 workers in Venezuela, where it's been the market leader for over 35 years.

GM described the takeover as an "illegal judicial seizure of its assets".

General Motors halted operations in Venezuela on Thursday after the auto maker's plant in the country was seized by public authorities, the company said.

"Today the people stood by Maduro!" the president said, blasting his rivals as "anti-Christs".

It's not the first time the Venezuelan government has seized a foreign corporation's facilities.

The Organization of American States, which includes every government in the western hemisphere, demanded in March that Venezuela hold democratic elections or face suspension from the group.

"This is a test case for Trump", said Raul Gallegos, a Bogota-based analyst at Control Risks consultancy.

Inaugural committee records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Citgo Petroleum, a US affiliate of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, was one of the biggest corporate donors to events surrounding the swearing-in ceremony. They are also calling him a dictator.

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Even while accusing the United States. of trying to overthrow him, Maduro has been careful not to antagonize the new USA president.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay on Monday signed a joint statement asking for the Venezuelan government "to guarantee the right to peaceful demonstration", and avoid violence against protesters.

Across the country, the clashes have been intense.

The opposition has blamed the Venezuelan government for the deaths of people during the recent demonstrations. "That's how this criminal dictatorship works".

In a third death, Venezuelan National Guard Sgt. Niumar Jose San Clemente Barrios was fatally shot Wednesday night, said the public prosecutor's office and Venezuela's top human rights official, ombudsman Tarek William Saab. Another officer was wounded in the clashes.

A Supreme Court decision in March to assume the powers of the opposition-led Congress sparked a wave of protests that have not ebbed, even though the court has partly reversed the measure in the face of global condemnation.

The move 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.

Mr Maduro's opponents are pushing for his removal through early elections and the release of scores of political prisoners.

The elections council, which is sympathetic to the government, has delayed votes for state governors which were supposed to take place a year ago. By doing away with the opposition-controlled legislative branch, the move effectively meant the remaining two branches of Venezuelan government were controlled by the ruling United Socialist Party.

But the government hasn't backed down.

Maduro held his own counter-rally on Wednesday, telling a sea of supporters dressed in red that the protests are an attempted coup and also threating the opposition leader. "Today the people stood by Maduro!" he said, adding that more than 30 "terrorists" had been arrested.

The company recently said that its South America region "remains challenged from macro-economic and political standpoints".

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