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Anti-government protesters clash with security forces in Caracas Anti-government protesters clash with security forces in Caracas  (AFP or licensors)

Venezuela crisis deepens amid violent clashes and more strikes

In Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Guaidò is urging public employees to take action and strike, saying the stoppages will lead to a general shutdown, further deepening the country’s socio-political crisis.

By Linda Bordoni

Tragedy unfolded in Caracas on Wednesday as 27-year-old Jurubith Rausseo was shot in the head and died, and at least 46 people were injured during clashes between opposition supporters and pro-government forces. The protesters were responding to Guaidò’s call to take to the streets across the nation.

The opposition leader had also called for a mass military defection against President Nicolas Maduro in an attempt to oust him. But his appeal went unheeded and security forces were on hand in the streets to disperse crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Juan Guaidó in January declared himself Venezuela's interim leader, and he has been recognised by more than 50 countries including the US, UK and most Latin America nations.

The embattled Socialist President, Nicolas Maduro, told his supporters that U.S. leaders were fooled by the opposition into believing he was about to flee the country. He vowed that any conspirators would be placed behind bars.

Maduro's government is widely detested and blamed for the country's devastating economic and humanitarian crisis but has managed to keep a grip on power.

An online censorship watchdog says Venezuela's state-run internet provider has again restricted access to services including live-streaming applications, YouTube and translation services – which activists say - is a way of censoring foreign media reports on the crisis.

It said these apps and services were blocked when Guaidò appeared in public and called for a general strike. But Maduro was not ousted and those services were restored shortly before he addressed the nation on TV.

Once the richest country in South America, Venezuela has been hurtling toward economic, social and institutional collapse, spurring a regional humanitarian crisis and mass migration.

The UN estimates there will be 5.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants by the end of 2019, rivaling the scale of the Syrian refugee crisis.

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02 May 2019, 15:47