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Maduro's Government Vows to Fight Fire With Fire As Opposition Protests Continue

© REUTERS / Carlos Eduardo Ramirez / Opposition supporters shout slogans during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in San Cristobal, Venezuela March 31, 2017
Opposition supporters shout slogans during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in San Cristobal, Venezuela March 31, 2017 - Sputnik International
The Venezuelan opposition is taking advantage of the country's economic problems to try to engineer a US-backed coup in the country, Venezuelan political analyst and activist Juan Linares told Sputnik.

The Venezuelan government is trying to prevent a coup d'etat in Venezuela, where opposition protests have been taking place since the beginning of the month, Venezuela's ambassador to Russia Carlos Faria Tortosa told Sputnik.

"The actions of the Venezuelan leadership are aimed at preventing a coup d'etat. What is happening today is a copy of the events of 15 years ago, when there was an attempt to overthrow President Hugo Chavez. That attempt failed because of popular resistance. Today we have to learn from those lessons. We are dealing with an aggressive opposition led by Leopoldo Lopez, who is openly calling for the violent seizure of power."

"He is responsible for the deaths in clashes with law enforcement agencies. These people do not respect the law, the constitution, nothing. The instrument they use is force, and there needs to be a corresponding reply to this," Tortosa said.

Venezuelan politician Leopoldo Lopez, former mayor of the Chacao Municipality of Caracas, was found guilty of incitement to violence and imprisoned in 2015. He remains in prison, although US President Donald Trump has called for his release.

​The Venezuelan opposition is planning another protest march on Wednesday, while the government has called on its supporters to hold their own marches in support of President Nicolas Maduro.

Protests broke out in the country last week, after the Supreme Court attempted to take on the functions of the country's National Assembly, which is controlled by the opposition.

Despite the fact that the court's ruling was subsequently reversed, tensions remain in the country. There have been multiple anti-government protests in recent weeks, during which seven protestors died in clashes with law enforcement.

Hugo Chavez statue in Sabaneta - Sputnik International
'Protagonistic Democracy' Helps Venezuelans Fight US Provocations
Venezuelan political analyst and activist Juan Linares told Sputnik that the US must bear a large part of the blame for Venezuela's political strife after trying to engineer a coup against the elected government. 

"Venezuela is suffering from an acute economic, political and social crisis. To a large extent, this is a result of the actions of Washington, which has declared the leadership of the country its enemy. There is a simple reason for the US's heightened interest in Venezuela: this is about massive oil reserves and other natural resources that the country is rich in."

"The US is behind the actions of the opposition, which is intentionally raising tensions in Venezuela. This is why opposition businesses have closed their stores, artificially creating a deficit and provoking mass discontent," Linares explained.

Samples of Venezuela's currencies are displayed at the Central Bank building in Caracas February 10, 2015 - Sputnik International
Venezuelan Bolivar Dropping Rapidly Against Dollar Amid Anti-Maduro Protests
Despite that, Linares said that the country's dire economic situation is also a result of Caracas' over-reliance on oil income, and said the government has to take measures to tackle hyperinflation. 

On Tuesday, the IMF updated its economic outlook for Venezuela. It says the country "remains mired in deep economic crisis," and its experts expect inflation to reach 720 percent this year.

"However, part of the responsibility for the current situation lies with the leadership of Venezuela, which has failed to combat rising prices even in government-owned stores. People simply don't have enough money for food, which has become more and more expensive. This is connected to the fact that despite all the promises, the main asset of our economy is oil exports, while other sectors like manufacturing and agriculture only exist on paper."

"That's why we are forced to import food products, which Venezuela can't influence the price of. Personally, I don't see how the state intends to correct the situation. An increase in the number of police officers is hardly going to 'cool' social and political tensions. The answer to the current challenges must be more substantial and include effective economic measures. If that doesn't happen, the situation will only intensify and I don't rule out the most tragic scenario," Linares said.

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