37 dead in Venezuela protests

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Pro and anti-government protesters clashed Thursday in Venezuela as violent demonstrators continue across the South American nation.
The country is in the midst of social, political and economic crises but a new wave of demonstrations began April 4 following a decision by the High Court of Justice that gave the jurists National Assembly powers — legislative authority that is controlled by opposition parties.
Although the Court quickly reversed that decision, protests have not ceased.
Hundreds of police and National Guard agents on Thursday blocked a university march surrounding the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas as students headed toward the Ministry of Interior Relations.
Demonstrators tried unsuccessfully to negotiate their departure from the campus for more than an hour after which troops launched tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.
Opposition parties and students have denounced what they called heavy-handed police tactics.
Protest intensified earlier this week as demonstrators rejected a decree by President Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the nation’s Constitution that was implemented in 1999 by the late popular former President Hugo Chavez.
Maduro has touted the needed change as a way to restore peace to the country.
At least six victims have been killed since the announcement Monday, bringing to 37 the number of dead in recent weeks.
More than 400 people have been injured and 1.700 detained — 567 are still under arrest, according to the Venezuelan Penal Forum, a group that monitors the prison system and detainees.
The opposition blames the government for the economic crisis and is demanding early elections and the release of more than 100 political prisoners. They contend that the decision to rewrite the Constitution is an attempt to divert attention from the country’s woes and to postpone elections.
The U.S. administration of Donald Trump has threatened to impose additional sanctions on Venezuelan officials if the situation does not improve.
In February, the U.S. sanctioned Vice President Tareck El Aissami on charges he is a major narcotics trafficker.

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