13 February 2014, 18:30

Venezuela calls for anti-fascist rally

By Brittany Peterson

WASHINGTON (VR)—Venezuelan government officials called Thursday for a pro-government rally in response to Wednesday’s violent anti-government demonstrations, the latter of which left three dead and dozens injured.

Citizens protested Wednesday against inflation, widespread crime, and shortages of basic goods, in what ended as the biggest challenge President Nicolás Maduro faced since assuming the presidency after Hugo Chavez’s death last year.

Initial rallies took place during the day for Venezuela’s Youth Day. But Chancellor Elías Jaua told Telesur TV that when the protests began to dissipate, organized groups took to the streets in Caracas in what appeared to be a planned attack against the District Attorney’s office.

Maduro criticized the widespread violence and called the unrest an attempted coup.

"There will be no coup d'etat in Venezuela; you can rest assured. Democracy will continue, and the revolution will continue," Maduro said.

"I have given clear instructions to state security agencies to secure the main cities. Anyone who goes out to try to carry out violence will be arrested."

An arrest warrant is out for one of the government’s top opposition figures, Leopoldo Lopez, a former mayor of one of the five districts in Caracas. Lopez is thought to be responsible for organizing Wednesday evening’s protests.

Chancellor Jaua warned against foreign interests that may also be behind the protests.

“There are transnational interests that want Venezuela to end its efforts to independently manage our resources, eradicate poverty and hunger…These groups linked to Lopez have received money from institutions in the United States,” and accused them of attempting to create an internal war in Venezuela.

In January 2014, Venezuela’s inflation rate reached 56 percent, as reported by the Venezuela Central Bank.

Sources: Radio VR, AFP, Cubahora

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