News / Americas

More Arrests in Venezuela Protests; Maduro Slams 'Coup-seekers'

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) gestures to supporters as he arrives for a ceremony commemorating the 22nd anniversary of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's attempted coup d'etat in Caracas, Feb. 4, 2014.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) gestures to supporters as he arrives for a ceremony commemorating the 22nd anniversary of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's attempted coup d'etat in Caracas, Feb. 4, 2014.
Venezuelan authorities have arrested another eight anti-government protesters, bringing to 19 the number being held amid street demonstrations that President Nicolas Maduro says are being orchestrated by foreign-backed “coup-seekers.”

Ten months after Maduro narrowly won an election to replace his mentor and late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, a hardline wing of Venezuela's opposition is trying to whip up street protests over rampant crime, economic hardship and alleged state repression.

Maduro, a 51-year-old former bus driver and union activist who has pinned his presidency on maintaining Chavez's legacy, said extreme right-wing politicians backed by “imperialist” collaborators want to bring him down by undemocratic means.

The protests have been sporadic and have seldom drawn crowds of more than a few hundred, although activists were hoping for bigger numbers at a march planned for Wednesday in Caracas.

Opposition campaigners said police detained eight people in the western Andean town of Merida on Monday night after students rallied for the release of colleagues in jail elsewhere.

“They simply unfurled banners and handed out banners,” said Tamara Suju, a human rights campaigner who works with the Popular Will party that is promoting the anti-Maduro activism.

The eight in Merida would add to four from Tachira state, and seven from Margarita island, held after other recent demonstrations, according to activists and student leaders. Some have been detained in their homes or workplaces.

Maduro is fed up

Officials say the protests are turning violent.

“I've had enough,” an angry Maduro said on state TV on Monday night. “You can accuse me of what you want, I am obliged to defend democracy and the peace of the people.”

The president said extremists were trying to undermine a political dialogue he has begun with the more moderate majority in Venezuela's opposition coalition. That has included a handshake with his arch-rival and two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles during a meeting over crime.

Maduro, who constantly says conservative U.S. politicians are fomenting plans to topple him, vowed to use decree powers granted by parliament against his domestic foes.

“I'm going to look for very strict norms so that anyone involved in these coup-seeking adventures can never participate as a candidate for anything again,” he said.

That appeared to be a reference to Popular Will leader Leopoldo Lopez, a former Caracas district mayor who has been barred from running for office in the past on corruption charges. He says they were trumped up to damage him.

Lopez, 42, said officials forced him off a flight to Tachira late on Monday where he had intended to meet protest leaders.

“The desperate and cowardly actions of a criminal government will not halt the unity in the street,” he tweeted later.

In an apparent rebuke to Lopez and illustrating splits within the opposition, fellow opposition leader Capriles said he did not support the confrontational tactics being promoted by hardline activists.

“We have to find a real solution for people's problems and avoid... failed past agendas,” said Capriles, the 41-year-old governor of Miranda state who narrowly lost to Maduro in last year's presidential poll.

Massive opposition protests in the past helped bring about a brief coup against Chavez in 2002, but he returned after a 36-hour detention when the military swung behind him and supporters poured onto the streets.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Panama Condo Owners to Trump: You're Fired!

Directors of luxury condominium development say mismanagement, overspending and undisclosed bonuses executives paid themselves prompted decision

Rescued Chilean Miners Were 'Battle-Scarred,' Author Says

Despite becoming celebrities after their improbable rescue in 2010, the men were deeply wounded, said writer Hector Tobar

Celebration of Peru's Economic Boom Comes Late

World Bank, IMF policymakers this week call country a prize pupil of financial stability, however, plunging prices for minerals have cut annual growth dramatically

Guatemala Landslide Death Toll Tops 220; Another 350 Missing

Loosened by heavy rains, hillside collapsed onto Santa Catarina Pinula on southeastern flank of Guatemala City October 1, burying scores of homes

Report: More Than 58,000 Violent Deaths Last Year in Brazil

Annual report on public security says number of violent deaths up nearly 5 percent last year from 2013, when country suffered a then high of 55,000 such deaths

UN Launches Review of Possible Corruption

Audit will look at interaction between world body and two organizations that US prosecutors have accused of bribing a former top UN official