Venezuela Protests Intensify as Opposition Rages

Christian Veron/Reuters

A demonstrator throws a molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police while rallying against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, April 20, 2017.

Several Latin American countries have called on Venezuela to keep calm as opposition protests intensified Thursday, a day after three demonstrators were killed while denouncing President Nicolas Maduro’s rule. The appeal for peace came after the country’s growing unrest forced out General Motors, with the automaker announcing the layoff of 2,700 workers Wednesday after an “illegal seizure of its assets.” As hundreds of workers gathered at the company’s plant in Caracas on Thursday to find out if they still had a job, tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police as they marched through the city’s streets, with authorities using tear gas and rubber bullets. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay issued statements condemning the violence. Protests have raged for nearly three weeks as Maduro’s critics demand early elections and condemn what they describe as a dictatorship. The country’s opposition came to life last month after its supreme court tried to strip the opposition-held congress of its powers, a move that was later reversed amid an international outcry. Rather than calling for calm, Maduro on Thursday ratcheted up tensions by ordering an investigation into a cellphone operator for allegedly plotting a “coup march” with the opposition.