Venezuela's Maduro jeered by crowd as unrest grows


An 87-year-old woman reportedly died inside her apartment in Caracas after inhaling tear gas thrown by police during street demonstrations Monday against the government of Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelan opposition has held protests in the last few days in Caracas to support parliament, the majority of which is anti-government, and its demands for elections and the removal of the Supreme Court judges.

"The existence of isolated acts of violence during protests can not justify a blank restriction of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression or the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against demonstrators", the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said Tuesday.

Government authorities have been using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, methods being criticized by global groups as an excessive use of force.

Despite the surge in protests, many Venezuelans are pessimistic that marches can bring about change, scared of violent clashes, or simply too busy trying to find food.

The protesters on Saturday included 26-year-old Victoria Paez, who sported a baseball cap bearing the slogan "There's a Way!" from Capriles' 2012 presidential run against the late Hugo Chavez.

An opposition supporter holds a placard depicting Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro that reads 'No more dictatorship.

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The opposition is also furious over moves to limit the powers of the legislature and ban senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles from politics.

Most of the protesters are peaceful and say street action is their only option after authorities past year blocked a recall referendum to remove Maduro.

Speaking on Palm Sunday in the nation's capital, Caracas, Cardinl Jorge Urosa Savino said that "we must defend our rights and the rights of others, without resorting to violence, instead following the constitution and the laws of our country".

The government has come under increased pressure from American and European countries that have condemned violence in Venezuela and the ban on Capriles. It said 40 people will be charged for "acts of violence" in Monday's unrest.

To preserve Venezuela's independence was to "preserve the independence, unity, and development of the region", said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Earlier, the President called on the opposition to return to efforts at dialogue and said he was eager for regional elections to take place, but opposition leaders renewed calls to take to the streets, saying Mr Maduro's words had no credibility until a full election timeline was formally established.