Caracas (dpa) - A demonstration against the government of Venezuela led by interim president Juan Guaidó led to serious riots in Caracas.
Security forces used force to prevent the protesters from reaching the National Assembly. Policemen in heavy gear and armored cars blocked the way to the center, where red-clad supporters of authoritarian socialist President Nicolás Maduro had gathered. Opposition supporters, many of whom were wrapped in the colors of the Venezuelan flag, were pushed back with tear gas.
Guaidó, who is also the President of Parliament, and other opposition politicians then held a "spontaneous meeting" in a square in another part of the city. "We can change this country," he tried to spread courage. There were also minor protests in various cities in the country. Guaidó announced another demonstration for Thursday. He had led the March in Caracas with the aim of regaining control of the National Assembly after a faction of the opposition, together with the ruling socialist party, took it over two months ago.
For the opposition leader, it was also about getting street support again in his attempt to push Maduro out of office. The march was the first demonstration that Guaidó called for after a trip abroad. He had traveled to Colombia, Europe and the United States for around three weeks in January and February, where US President Donald Trump welcomed him to the White House.
Around 60 countries, including Germany, have now recognized Guaidó as a legitimate head of the transition state, but so far he has not been able to establish himself in Venezuela. When he declared himself transition president in January last year, he mobilized the masses. In the past few months, however, the inflow has decreased, also because Maduro is still firmly in the saddle despite increased US sanctions.
In her report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet expressed concern that acts of violence against opposition politicians in Venezuela were still the order of the day. The political and economic crisis in the country has driven around 4.9 million people into exile in recent years, according to Bachelet's report.