Venezuelan violinist injured in latest anti-government protests

Opposition calls for two-day strike against President Nicolas Maduro

Tensions flare in a 24-hour nationwide strike in Venezuela called by foes of President Nicolas Maduro. Video: Reuters

 

A Venezuelan violinist famous for his musical protests was injured during the latest clashes against President Nicolas Maduro.

On Saturday, several thousand protesters sought to march on the pro-Maduro Supreme Court in support of alternative magistrates appointed by the opposition. But security forces blocked them with armoured cars and riot shields.

Clashes ensued for several hours as hundreds of masked youths hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at troops firing tear gas from motorcycles.

The injured included musician Wuilly Arteaga (23), who hsa become famous for playing the national anthem on his violin in front of security lines as battles rage around him.

Paramedics attended Mr Arteaga in the street as blood poured down his face. He later tweeted a video from hospital with a bandaged face and clutching his violin.

“Neither rubber bullets nor pellets will stop our fight,” said Mr Arteaga. “Tomorrow I will be back in the streets.”

The country’s opposition coalition - which organised a 24-hour shutdown this week that paralysed large swathes of the country - has called a two-day national strike for Wednesday and Thursday.

Mass marches were also planned for Monday and Friday in an effort to force Mr Maduro into aborting a controversial July 30th election for a new congress.

The fast-escalating political showdown comes after more than 100 people have died and thousands more been injured in anti-government unrest since demonstrations began in April.

“The Venezuelan people are not giving up, they are valiant, they will come out to defend democracy and the constitution,” opposition lawmaker Simon Calzadilla said at a news conference flanked by other coalition officials.

The president’s opponents accuse Mr Maduro of turning Venezuela into a dictatorship and wrecking what should be a prosperous economy. They want free elections and an end to two decades of socialist rule.

Mr Maduro (54) calls himself a flag bearer for the international left, up against right-wing “terrorists” seeking a coup with the connivance of the United States and foreign media.

Reuters