Venezuela's opposition seeks to keep pressure on Maduro

Pope Francis sent an envoy to Caracas to mediate talks between the opposition and the government in 2016.

"But its application seems to me intimidating, they want to dissuade the protests", he said.

Later in the day a 23-year-old woman named Paola Ramirez was also shot and killed by pro-government groups, according to The Associated Press. There were no other details immediately available.

Since the start of the recent protests, at least six people have died and many others injured.

"Loyalty is repaid with loyalty", said Maduro. "In Venezuela, there is no peace, no justice", he said.

Tens of thousands of protesters attended the march in Caracas, where one teenager was killed. "But it's hard because when government supporters see you with a camera they send motorcycles to try and grab it from you", he added.

The often fragmented opposition has been galvanized since the Supreme Court's bid to seize legislative powers.

Opponents are pushing for Maduro's removal through early elections and the release of scores of political prisoners. The government has repeatedly blocked any attempts by the opposition to oust Maduro from power by a referendum vote.

Marchers in the opposition demonstration in Caracas included Liliana Machuca, who earns about $20 a month holding two jobs teaching literature. Her face was covered in a white, sticky substance to protect herself from the noxious effects of tear gas.

"The aim of these protests is to generate a definitive change of government and institutions", protester Eduard Grosse told Al Jazeera.

"This is like a chess game and each side is moving whatever pieces they can...." "We're marching for the freedom of our country".




Venezuela has been rocked by protests for a few weeks due to the scarcity of necessities, unemployment heading towards 25 percent, and local elections being postponed indefinitely.

"Tomorrow Venezuela will be in the streets, peacefully, and it is the moment for the armed forces to demonstrate that they are with the constitution and with the people", he told reporters.

Anti-government demonstrators take cover from advancing Bolivarian Police officers during protests in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

"I have chose to launch strategic, special, civil and military plan to ensure the functioning of our country, its security, internal order and social integrity", Maduro said late on Tuesday, as quoted by the state Venezuelan TV broadcaster.

"Today the people stood by Maduro!" the president said, blasting his rivals as "anti-Christs".

Maduro didn't provide evidence to back his claim that a coup attempt was under way, and the opposition rejected his comments as a desperate attempt to intimidate Venezuelans from exercising their constitutional right to protest.

An opposition demonstrator clashes with riot police.

Capriles is among the leaders organizing Wednesday's "Mother of All Protests", meant to bring together the anti-socialist opposition throughout the country to demand Maduro step down. He has also warned that an opposition government would slash social benefits like healthcare for the poor and subsidized food.

Maduro has urged his supporters, the military, and civilian militias to defend the socialist "revolution" launched by his predecessor Hugo Chavez in 1999. In a televised speech Tuesday night, Maduro ordered security forces to go on high alert, alleging - as he often does - that the opposition is colluding with the United States to overthrow him.

Pressure on Maduro has increased as falling prices for Venezuela's crucial oil exports has aggravated a financial crisis, creating severe shortages of food and medicine in the state-led economy.

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