17:56 GMT +323 May 2017
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    Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro

    Venezuelan Protesters Split Over Stance on President Maduro

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    Venezuela was divided into two major camps on Saturday, as supporters and opponents of the current president Nicolas Maduro marched in different states of the country.

    MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) — Maduro's opponents marched across 15 of 23 Venezuelan states. The opposition insists on the his resignation, planning to hold a referendum on the termination of his powers and to amend the constitution, if Maduro refuses to step down. The first reading on the referendum bill has already taken place.

    In parallel, the Venezuelan capital of Caracas witnessed the marches of Maduro's supporters, who also called on US President Barack Obama to cancel his decision on extending sanctions against Venezuela.

    A year ago, Obama issued an executive order imposing new sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, freezing their assets and banning them from entering the United States. Obama described the "erosion" of human rights guarantees in Venezuela as an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to US security. In response, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said Caracas would reconsider its relations with Washington.

    On Wednesday, Obama renewed the sanctions.

    Relations between Washington and Caracas have been unstable since the late Hugo Chavez became president in 1999. The relations particularly worsened worsened recently over alleged human rights violations during protests in Venezuela’s capital against the government of Maduro in February of 2014.

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