Venezuelan protesters continue to defy Maduro’s riot troops

The fierce political crisis in Venezuela has already cost over 70 lives, but with the economic collapse reducing much of the population to poverty there is no shortage of protesters. Most of them are willing to risk it all to confront President Nicolas Maduro's riot troops. 

Venezuela's chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, is familiar with the passion and dedication of the student protesters known among their supporters as "The Resistence." The former leftist student activist went on to become the nation’s top law enforcement official.

In 2007, the leftist loyalist was named chief prosecutor, and in 2014 she was appointed again to a six-year term. She is committed to investigating public corruption and emerged as one of the most critical voices of Maduro within the government.  

"We have to begin demanding that they start providing the bills of where all this money is coming from that that they spend on stages and for the marches," Ortega Diaz said on Monday. "Maybe what they spend on stages would be better used buying medicine and food."

On Tuesday, the same Supreme Court justices who ruled to take powers away from the National Assembly and later reversed their ruling, decided to clear the way for the prosecution of Ortega Diaz. The justices approved a request from a socialist party lawmaker accusing her of committing "grave errors." 

After the protests started in March, Ortega Diaz became a hero to Maduro's opposition when she denounced Maduro’s plans to elect delegates for a constitutional assembly in July. She said the move was an affront to the legacy of Hugo Chavez, who crafted the nation’s current constitution.

Maduro's supporters mounted a campaign to discredit her. Some accused her of being crazy. Others accused her of becoming a spokeswoman for "right-wing terrorists." The National Assembly, which Maduro's opposition controls, is the only entity able to remove her under the current constitution. 

Meanwhile, at the Organization of American States general assembly Tuesday, delegates from the United States and Venezuela exchanged harsh words. The U.S. representative said the OAS must pass some kind of resolution on the troubled South American country to remain true to its principles.

John Sullivan, U.S. deputy secretary of state, made an impassioned plea for the 34-nation organization to approve naming a "contact group" of countries to mediate the crisis.

"If we can’t take that step forward here, we seriously impair our ability to go forward as an organization. It is the least we can do," Sullivan told the OAS general assembly being held in the Mexican resort of Cancun.

Sullivan described the proposal, which has yet to be voted on, as a plan to create a "group of friends" - a multi-country mediation group like the one that helped end the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s.

The members of the group would be named later, and Sullivan said they would be "balanced" and could include the United Nations or the Vatican. Sullivan said the U.S. wants political prisoners in Venezuela freed, elections held and violence ended.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, who walked out of the meeting Monday but returned Tuesday, said the United States wanted to intervene in Venezuela to take advantage of the country’s oil reserves.

Rodriguez said the countries willing to collaborate with the U.S. were "lap dogs of imperialism." Sullivan responded that Rodriguez’s comments "can be summarized in three words: distractions, distortions and irrelevancies."

That sparked an angry response from Rodriguez. "I think the only way they (the U.S.) can impose their will is with their Marines, who would be met with a swift response in Venezuela, should they dare" to intervene, she said.

The OAS narrowly failed to pass a resolution calling for an end to Venezuela’s political crisis. But Peru and other countries continued Tuesday to mention the desperate situation on Venezuela’s streets.

Fabian Urbina, 17, was out protesting, while his mom was dying of cancer. He was protesting the food and medicine shortages. Authorities believe a video shows Urbina carrying a wooden shield and throwing stones at members of the National Guard.  

The video also shows members of the National Guard hold a 9mm pistol to shoot at protesters. Urbina died on Monday. 

"The impunity is too great. The government does what it pleases," Urbina's cousin Clemedy Flores said in tears during an interview with Caraota Digital. "I just want this to end. It's always young kids. It's just kids who say they want a free country."

The Associated Press Mark Stevenson and Joshua Goodman contributed to this report. 


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This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.