Venezuelans hold pro-, anti-gov’t rallies in Caracas
The supporters and opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have staged rival demonstrations in the capital city of Caracas.
A large rally was staged in Caracas’ Plaza Venezuela on Thursday, when thousands of demonstrators voiced support for Maduro.
The red-clad supporters of the Venezuelan president were singing and carrying banners with portraits of the president at the rally.
“Oil prices will rise again and we’ll be okay,” said Javier Castillo, 20, a student at the Bolivarian University who was among the government supporters, referring to recent sharp slumps in the prices of oil.
“We on the Left are people of peace, happiness and harmony. Those on the far Right are the ones seeking violence,” he added.
The pro-government rally in the capital was held in response to a much smaller rally by anti-government demonstrators.
The anti-government demonstration was held on the anniversary of protests early last year.
The Venezuelan president also delivered a televised speech, declaring 12th of February as “Youth Day”.
He also reported on the dismantling of an attempted coup against the country.
Maduro said during the speech that the coup had been hatched by the US, further revealing that those involved in the act against the government have been arrested.
He further explained that the plotters, who planned to bomb the capital and other places in the country, and assassinate members of opposition parties, had already lined up a “transitional” government and program.
Officials loyal to the government reported the plot to the relevant authorities, the Venezuelan president said.
The Venezuelan government has repeatedly stated that the opposition seeks to launch a coup d’état in the South American country with the backing of the US.
On January 30, the Venezuelan president said in a speech from the presidential palace that several US federal agencies had devised a number of plots against Caracas and also plan to oust him.
“There are US diplomats in Venezuela contacting military officials to betray their country, looking to influence socialist political leaders, public opinion leaders and entrepreneurs to provoke a coup,” said Maduro at the time.
He also said in his speech that the time may come when it is impossible to keep diplomatic relations with the US due to the constant attacks from Washington and its diplomats on the Venezuelan government.
Maduro said last December that he had “recordings” that reveal the US was seeking to corrupt Venezuelan government officials.
On December 3, 2014, Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado was charged with being involved in an alleged conspiracy to assassinate Maduro, an allegation which she strongly denied.
Caracas and Washington remain at odds since late Hugo Chavez became president in 1999. Both sides have refused to exchange ambassadors since 2010. The two countries have chargé d’affaires running their respective embassies.