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    Police secure the area during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019.

    About 500 People Arrested During Mass Rallies in Venezuela - Rights Group

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    BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) - Around 500 people have been arrested during massive anti-government rallies in Venezuela, Alfredo Romero, the head of Venezuelan human rights organization Foro Penal, said.

    On early Friday, Romero reported about 369 arrests.

    "As of 8:50 p.m. [00:50 GMT on Saturday], arrests are underway, there are reports about officers of the National Guard and special services rushing into homes. The number of arrested people will soon reach 500," Romero wrote on his Twitter page.

    He added that there were at least 14 underage people among those arrested.

    The situation in Venezuela, which has been struggling to overcome a political crisis amid the opposition's refusal to recognize last year’s re-election of President Nicolas Maduro, significantly escalated on Tuesday when the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared the president a usurper.

    The very next day, opposition-held National Assembly's head Juan Guaido proclaimed himself Venezuela's interim president.

    READ MORE: US Seeking to Get Resources to Guiado to Function as Venezuela President

    Maduro called the opposition leader a US puppet and accused Washington of attempting to organize a coup in Venezuela, declaring the decision to cut off diplomatic relations with the country.

    Some countries, including Brazil, Canada and the United States, immediately recognized Guaido's interim presidency. Other states, such as Russia and Mexico, voiced their support for Maduro as the country's only legitimate president.

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    Political Crisis in Venezuela (572)

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    arrest, protests, opposition, detention, National Assembly, Juan Guaido, Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela
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