Violence intensifies in Venezuela
Venezuela’s capital is engulfed in the biggest protests the country has seen since its longtime leader, Hugo Chávez, died in March of last year.
Protestors are calling for the resignation of President Nicolás Maduro, who was narrowly elected after Chávez’s death, amid frustrations about the country’s high crime rate, high inflation, and the shortage of basic goods.
Maduro ordered the expulsion of three U.S. diplomats on Sunday, arguing they were inciting violence among student protesters. On Tuesday, opposition leader and U.S.-educated economist Leopoldo Lopez surrendered to authorities after Maduro ordered his arrest on charges that Lopez staged a coup to overthrow the government. Prosecutors dropped the most serious charges of murder and terrorism Thursday, but charged Lopez with arson and conspiracy.
Six people have died in week-long clashes between protesters and security forces, with dozens injured and scores arrested. Maduro’s attempts to crack down caused the violence to intensify toward the end of the week.
President Obama called the claims against the American diplomats “false accusations” and urged Maduro’s government to release the political prisoners and turn to diplomacy during remarks on Wednesday in Mexico.