Venezuelan protest violence flares, violinist injured

Socialist Workers Party: US hands off Venezuela!

Socialist Workers Party: US hands off Venezuela!

Thousands gathered in the capital Caracas on Saturday to march on the Supreme Court, but security forces blocked their way with armoured vehicles and riot shields.

The U.S. propertied rulers, and the Venezuelan opposition forces they back, see the deep economic crisis battering Venezuela's workers and farmers as an opportunity to bring down the government of President Nicolás Maduro there and install a regime more subservient to the interests of Washington and Venezuela's employing class.

Venezuela's opposition party is calling for a 48-hour general strike in Caracas Wednesday and Thursday, in a continuation of protests over President Nicolas Maduro's plan to elect a new assembly next weekend and rewrite the country's constitution.

National Guard troops used tear gas in at least one location in Caracas, blocking protesters with clouds of white gas and rows of officers on motorcycles.

The injured included Arteaga, who was treated by paramedics in the street as blood poured down his face.

The 23-year-old first gained fame after playing his violin during a march against President Nicolas Maduro's government in May, and has been a regular at protests since. He is seen in a hospital bed with bandages on his face and swollen lips.

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The ministry said the referendum showed Venezuela was "deeply polarized" and that the planned assembly would only aggravate divisions and unrest in the country.

Venezuela's political crisis has entered a risky new stage as the opposition escalates street tactics to try and block a controversial new super-congress Maduro wants to set up with an election next weekend. "We are not going to let them destroy our fatherland", said Delcy Rodriguez, who left her post as foreign minister to stand for the new congress.

With the situation already inflamed, the stakes have risen further, after the United States threatened economic sanctions if Maduro proceeds with a controversial July 30 election of a body to rewrite the constitution.

On Saturday night he issued a warning about the vote and how the opposition behaves next weekend: "We will be relentless if they try to generate a process of violence in order to stop that which can not be stopped".

But the government is showing no sign of backing down, announcing that it will put 232,000 soldiers on the streets to ensure the Constituent Assembly goes ahead in a week's time. Global pressure has been ratcheted up on Maduro to abort the vote, including a threat from US President Donald Trump to apply economic sanctions.

"The repression has been brutal and the world has to understand what we are living through in the streets of Venezuela", Machado said.

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