Pro-government supporters rally in Venezuela
Caracas: Several hundred supporters of the Venezuelan government staged a colorful rally in the capital Caracas on Saturday, as opponents called for more protests against President Nicolas Maduro and his leftist administration.
Venezuela has seen almost daily anti-government demonstrations over violent crime, shortages of essential goods such as toilet paper, and inflation, in the most serious challenge yet for Maduro since succeeding the late socialist-populist Hugo Chavez last year.
At least 28 people have died and 400 have been injured in the student-led protests that started on February 4 in San Cristobal, in the west of Venezuela, and later spread to Caracas and several other cities.
"The people and the armed forces are on the streets defending the Bolivarian revolution and the legacy of Hugo Chavez, the country and our constitution," thundered Diosdado Cabello, speaker of the National Assembly, sporting a coat in the yellow, blue and red colors of Venezuela.
Many of the pro-government supporters held up Venezuelan flags and wore red, the color closely associated with Chavez and his "Bolivarian revolution," while armed forces joined in the rally.
Meanwhile the Popular Will, a prominent Venezuelan opposition party, called for a rival demonstration in another part of the capital, "to repudiate the brutal onslaught of state security and pro-government (vigilante) groups against demonstrators."
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