Clashes as Venezuelans protest in political crisis

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Protesters clashed with police in Venezuela Tuesday as the opposition mobilized against moves to tighten President Nicolas Maduro\’s grip on power.
Protesters hurled stones at riot police who fired tear gas as they blocked the demonstrators from advancing through central Caracas, where pro-government activists were also planning to march.
Hundreds of protesters were trying to march to the National Assembly to demand the government restore powers to its opposition majority.
A move by the Supreme Court last week to take over the assembly\’s powers sparked international condemnation.
The United States and other powers backed the opposition\’s calls for the government to allow timely elections and release political prisoners.
The court later backtracked on its move but the opposition pressed ahead with calls for demonstrations.
Opposition lawmakers were preparing to discuss moves to try to fire judges from the court, at a session scheduled in the assembly later Tuesday.
The center-right opposition wants to remove the socialist president from office, blaming him for an economic crisis that has caused food shortages in the oil-rich nation.
Maduro says the crisis is the result of a capitalist conspiracy. The opposition has urged the military to drop its support for him, but so far he still has the public backing of the high command.
"We want liberty in Venezuela. This is a dictatorship," one protester, 56-year-old nurse Maria Gonzalez, yelled at the police.
"Soon there will be no more food. Is that what you want for your children?"
SOURCE: AFP

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