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Countrywide protests have once again flared up in Venezuela, where political corruption, extreme inflation, widespread shortages of food, medicine and other vital resources, and rising crime have been part of the daily reality for years.
Spurred on by opposition leader Henrique Capriles, millions of anti-government protesters have swelled onto the streets in the capital Caracas and other cities these past few days, in some instances clashing with fervent supporters of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
The protesters’ demands are fourfold and simple.
- A fair general election this year
- Release of all “political prisoners”
- Creation of a “humanitarian channel” to allow much-needed medication to be imported
- Dismissal of all Supreme Court judges who were responsible for a recent ruling that stripped Parliament of all of its power and vested it in the Supreme Court (a ruling which has since been reversed).
This week’s protests, the most sustained demonstrations in Venezuela since 2014, have been described by opposition groups as the “mother of all marches” and reflect a deeply shared sentiment that democracy has severely eroded under the rule of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
Economically, Venezuela has suffered greatly too. Many believe President Maduro has lead the country into ruin. Despite Venezuela having one of the largest oil reserves in the world, inflation and unemployment are spiralling.
Three people have already lost their lives in these marches, and many others have been injured in confrontations between pro-Maduro, anti-government and security forces.