Police in Venezuela have taken some 80 people into custody after protests in the capital, Caracas, turned violent. Those arrested had themselves been protesting against the detention of some 200 people last week.
Police in Caracas made arrests and fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Wednesday, as anti-government student demonstrators threw stones and fireworks at a government ministry building.
Manuel Quevedo, commander of the Venezuela National Guard regiment in the city, said at least 80 young people had been detained. He said the unrest had broken out at the end of a march towards the United Nations Development Program building, in the city’s wealthy Chacao district.
The violence was said to have begun when the demonstrators changed route, because of a police cordon. Some protesters subsequently threw stones and small fireworks at a tourism ministry building, police said, prompting the firing of tear gas.
Police made the arrests as they swooped on students with batons, according to Juan Requesens, student council president at the Central University of Venezuela.
March in response to raids
The march on Wednesday had been called to protest the detention of some 200 student demonstrators, who were arrested last week
The detainees were arrested as the government launched raids on several sites across the city. Authorities said the camps were being used by violent groups hiding behind the protest movement with the intention of committing “terrorist acts.”
At least 42 people have died and more than 800 people have been injured since opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government began large-scale protests in February against rampant crime, runaway inflation and shortages of basic goods.
Venezuela’s opposition froze talks with the Maduro government on Tuesday, saying that last week’s mass arrests had made the climate for dialogue impossible.
rc/jm (AFP, dpa, AP)