Anti-Chavez March Turns Violent!


A rally against Hugo Chavez turns bloody in Caracas, yesterday.

A march of hundreds of opposition members looking to reach the National Assembly building clashed using stones and bottles with groups supporting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez while they were trying to deliver their claims to legislators. (Reuters)

A protest against Hugo Chavez turned violent as pro-Chavez supporters threw rocks and tear gas at the Protesters:

Roughly 1,000 demonstrators marched through the capital to demand that election authorities, who are viewed by government opponents as pro-Chavez, be replaced before upcoming congressional elections.

Six people were injured when people believed to be Chavez supporters attacked the march, launching powerful fireworks and throwing bottles, rocks and tear gas canisters at protesters, Caracas Fire Chief Delio Martinez said.

The protest dispersed after the violence, which occurred several blocks from congress.

Opposition leaders claim the National Election Council is dominated by government-friendly directors who cannot guarantee a transparent vote. In recent elections, some opposition leaders called boycotts.

Opposition members wave nationals flags during a march to protest against the Venezuelan National Electoral Council in downtown, Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2005. Roughly 1,000 demonstrators marched through the capital to demand that election authorities, which are viewed by most government foes as pro-Chavez, are replaced before upcoming elections. (AP)

The street clashes were the most serious violence in months between the two sides.

Emergency crews whisked wounded away on motorbikes as the two groups whipped rocks and bottles at each other in a chaotic battle in downtown Caracas streets normally packed with vendors.

“A woman hit me hard in the head from behind with a stick. The metropolitan police were beside me and they did nothing,” said Marisela Riera, a 50-year-old ballerina and opposition supporter, holding out her bloody hands.

Venezuela has been relatively calm since August 2004 when Chavez won a referendum on his rule after two years of political violence. But foes of the populist president claim the referendum vote was tainted by fraud and that the electoral council is stacked with Chavez supporters.

Opponents say Chavez has become increasingly authoritarian in his rule of the world’s No. 5 oil exporter. They say he has packed institutions like the Supreme Court and the electoral council with loyalist appointees and is driving the country towards Cuban-style communism.

“We are protesting, marching to the National Assembly to protest the fraud perpetrated by the CNE (National Electoral Council),” 54-year-old Guiseppe Santini said before the clashes halted the march blocks away from the national assembly.

A. M. Mora y Leon has much more at Publius Pundit.

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