Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Protesters march in Venezuela, destroy Chavez statue

Published:Monday | May 8, 2017 | 5:00 AM
Demonstrators hold black crosses adorned with Venezuela flags and with the names of those who were killed in weeks of violent demonstrations calling on Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro to step down, stage a demonstration in St. Peter's Square prior to the start of Pope Francis Regian Coeli noon prayer, at the Vatican, Sunday, May 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
An anti-government protester covers her mouth with a zipper during a women's march against repression in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 6, 2017. Women wearing white shirts protested Venezuela's socialist government in an event the opposition billed as a "women's march against repression." (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

Women banged on pans and some stripped off their white shirts Saturday as they protested Venezuela's socialist government in an event the opposition billed as a "women's march against repression". As they marched, local media carried a video showing people toppling a statue of the late President Hugo Chavez the day before in the western state of Zulia.

Thousands of women took over streets in major cities all around the South American country. Wearing the white shirts of the opponents of country's increasingly embattled government, the women sang the national anthem and chanted, "Who are we? Venezuela! What do we want? Freedom!"

Some sported makeshift gear to protect against tear gas and rubber bullets. Others marched topless. One woman came in her wedding dress.

As they have near-daily for five weeks, police in riot gear again took control of major roads in the capital city. Clashes between police and protesters have left some three dozen dead in the past month.

Local news media carried a video circulating on Twitter of the Chavez statue being pulled down. The media reported that students destroyed the statue as they vented their anger with the food shortages, inflation and spiraling crime that have come to define life here.

Several young men could be seen bashing the statue that depicted the socialist hero standing in a saluting pose, as onlookers hurled insults at the late president.

 

MOVEMENT DENOUNCED

 

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez on Friday denounced the protest movement and said opposition "terrorists" were attempting a kind of unconventional warfare.

The protest movement has drawn masses of people into the street nearly every day since March, and shows no sign of slowing. On Saturday, some of the women marchers approached soldiers in riot gear to offer them white roses and invite them to join the cause.

"What will you tell your kids later on?" one woman asked.

In a call with the president of Peru, US President Donald Trump addressed the deteriorating situation in Venezuela.

A statement from the White House's Office of the Press Secretary said Trump underscored to President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski that "the United States will work together with Peru in seeking to improve democratic institutions and help the people of Venezuela".