Venezuela prepares for massive anti-government marches

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Venezuelans organize massive anti-government marchesSpencer Platt / Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

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(CNN) – Dozens of people took to the streets of Venezuela Wednesday in a re-energized effort against the president Nicolas Maduro and his government.

The Opposition-backed National Assembly has called for nationwide protests on Wednesday amid mounting tensions between Washington and the besieged Maduro government.

Anti-Maduro protests began at various locations in the capital, Caracas. Images showed protesters gassed by members of the Venezuelan National Guard near El Paraiso neighborhood. The opposition has called for new elections, accusing the Maduro government of abusing power.

Maduro and his supporters planned a parallel rally in front of the Miraflores Presidential Palace.

The demonstrations take place at a highly symbolic date for Venezuelans. Wednesday marks the 61st anniversary of a civil and military uprising that overthrew the former Venezuelan dictator, General Marcos Perez Jimenez.

Some signs of unrest appeared earlier this week in Caracas. A small team of soldiers, claiming Venezuela's armed forces, attempted an uprising against Maduro and unleashed violent street protests.

Wednesday's marches took place weeks after the start of her second term in power, as the country faces a deep economic crisis and dozens of countries contest the legitimacy of her presidency.

US Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday issued a message of support to Venezuelans wishing to join the parades.

"We are with you, we are with you and we will stay with you until democracy is restored and you recover your birthright by libertad (freedom)," Pence said in a video published on Twitter.

Pence said the United States argued that Maduro "is a dictator without a legitimate claim to power" and reiterated the policy of the administration in favor of Juan Guaido, president of the National Assembly, and his efforts to declare Maduro's presidency illegitimate and establish a transitional government.

In response to Pence's comments, Maduro called for a "total and absolute review" of Venezuela's diplomatic relations with the United States and said his government would take "political, diplomatic and defense decisions" to defend the country's democracy. country.

"Never before has a top-level official spoken on behalf of his government," he said on behalf of the US president, "to say that in Venezuela," he said. Opposition was supposed to overthrow the government, "said Maduro in a TV show message.

Other Venezuelan officials accused Pence of being behind a so-called military uprising in Caracas earlier in the week.

Wednesday's protests are expected to be the biggest protest since 2017. Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces for several months, accusing Maduro of imposing a dictatorship. More than 120 people were killed in incidents related to protests during these disturbances.

On Tuesday, a day before the protests scheduled this week, the National Assembly of Venezuela continued its efforts towards an amnesty policy for civilians and military officials who would rise up against the government of Maduro.

On Monday, the Venezuelan Supreme Court declared that the National Assembly was illegitimate and that no law examined by the legislature had any legal value.

Maduro pursued Huge social welfare and price control programs of Hugo Chavez, who had guided the country to socialism before dying in 2013. During a decade of mismanagement, Venezuela has squandered its deep oil wealth, leaving its economy in ruins and America latent of an unprecedented massive exodus of migrants in search of food and medicine.

The United Nations estimates that as many as 3 million Venezuelans have fled since 2014.