CNN news 2017-05-21
A national holiday was held in the South American nation of Venezuela yesterday. It marked the beginning of the country's fight for independence against Spain, which it eventually got in 1811. But on the streets of the Venezuelan capital, there were protests instead of celebrations.
This is a troubled nation with a lot of problems. Its economy has been in recession for three years and counting. Its unemployment rate is expected to go higher than 25 percent this year. Inflation is skyrocketing. That's when prices go up and money buys less.
And opposition political parties want the country's leader out of office. They accuse President Nicolas Maduro of creating a dictatorship over the past few years. He and his supporters pushed for a countermarch yesterday. President Maduro calls the opposition vandals, terrorists, and criminals, and he's threatened to, quote, "capture them."
The Venezuelan armed forces which have said they fully support President Maduro have been deployed for as long as the marches last.
With all this going on, international pressure has been building on Venezuela's government. The Organization of American States, which includes every government in the western hemisphere, says that unless Venezuela holds democratic elections, it could be suspended from the group.
RAFAEL ROMO, cnn INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Turmoil in Venezuela has been exacerbated recently by three major incidents happening in a short period of time. First, on March 29th, the Venezuelan supreme court dissolved the parliament, transferring all legislative powers to itself.
The move effectively meant the three branches of the Venezuelan were controlled by the ruling United Socialist Party.
The opposition was outraged. They called the move a coup. The decision was reversed three days later, but protests had already erupted.
On Friday, April 7th, the government notified main opposition leader Henrique Capriles that he had been banned from doing any political work for 15 years. The 44-year-old governor who has run for president twice said the government was again acting like a dictatorship.
Then, on April 10th, after several days of violent protests, a 20-year-old student died in the city of Valencia after he was shot in the neck during a demonstration when police opened fire. He was one of several young people who have recently died in clashes with security forces. Their deaths have brought even more people out into the streets.
The opposition also complains that a state and local election should have been held months ago and that the government is dragging its feet. A collapsed economy that has led to shortages of food and medicine for years has also made for a very volatile situation on the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities— a combustible mix that has once again caught fire.
Rafael Romo, cnn.