By Maria Paz Salas
For a second consecutive day, thousands of protesters in Venezuela demanded the departure of President Nicolas Maduro in marches Thursday highlighted by violent clashes with police.
In the capital, Caracas, anti-government protesters and police exchanged tear gas, rocks and Molotov cocktails.
Violence was also reported in Maracaibo, Valencia and San Cristobal just one day after what opposition leaders called “the mother of all protests”.
Thee people are confirmed dead and more than 400 arrests have been made in the past two days. And Thursday, 223 people were wounded in the demonstrations.
The country is grappling with a new wave of political protest in recent weeks after the High Court of Justice tried to assume legislative powers of the National Assembly that is controlled by opposition parties.
Maduro’s government is facing crises on a number of fronts as it struggles to contain political and economic upheaval stemming from low global crude oil prices. Severe shortages of staple food and medicines have only intensified the problems.
The opposition blames the government for the economic crisis and is demanding early elections and the release of more than 100 political prisoners.
Maduro has laid the blame for his country’s problems at the feet of the U.S. and its regional allies.
International reaction to the demonstrations has started to come from prominent bodies.
The European Union condemned the violence and called for a “de-escalation” of the situation.
Amnesty International warned of the repression of rights and UN Secretary General,Antonio Guterres urged “concrete gestures from all sided to reduce the polarization”.
Also, Thursday General Motors announced it would suspend operations in Venezueala after authorities confiscated its factory in Valencia.
The plant has not manufactured a single vehicle since 2015 but the company had 79 dealerships that employ 3.900 workers in Venezuela.