Sat | Feb 23, 2019

Unrest roils Venezuela amid new push to topple Maduro

Published:Wednesday | January 23, 2019 | 9:52 AM
AP photo

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s re-invigorated opposition faces a crucial test Wednesday as it seeks to fill streets nationwide with protesters in an appeal to the military and the poor to shift loyalties that until recently looked solidly behind President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.

The protests have been called to coincide with a historic date for Venezuelans — the anniversary of the 1958 coup that overthrew military dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez.

Government supporters are also expected to march in downtown Caracas in a rival show of strength.

The competing demonstrations will come after a whirlwind week that saw an uprising by a tiny military unit, fires set during protests in poor neighbourhoods and the brief detention by security forces of the newly installed head of the opposition-controlled Congress.

For much of the past two years, following a deadly crackdown on protests in 2017 and the failure of negotiations ahead of last May’s boycotted presidential election, the coalition of opposition parties has been badly divided by strategy and ego battles as millions of desperate Venezuelans fled the country’s hyperinflation and widespread food shortages.

But buoyed by unprecedented international criticism of Maduro, anti-government forces have put aside their differences and are projecting a united front.

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