CARACAS, Venezuela — Opponents and supporters of President
Leading the opposition demonstration in eastern Caracas was Liliana Tintori, wife of Leopoldo
Lopez and other opposition leaders say armed pro-government vigilantes have been responsible for the deaths and that the opposition has demonstrated peacefully to protest rising crime and shortages. Speaking at a rally attended by tens of thousands of mostly white-shirted opposition members, Tintori said her husband has been jailed unjustly.
"No one can tell me this is not a dictatorship. This is a dictatorship," said Tintori who shared the platform with opposition leaders Maria Corina Machado and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. "No one can tell me we are divided. We are united. Leopoldo will do what is necessary so that Venezuelans unite in peace, and can walk the streets in safety."
Lopez is being held in Ramo Verde military prison in suburban Caracas and sends messages to supporters urging continued demonstrations. In an interview with El Tiempo newspaper of Bogota, Colombia, Tintori said government officials had urged Lopez to go into exile rather than give himself up for arrest, an offer he declined.
In a surprise announcement at a late night news conference Friday, Maduro called on President
Speaking to supporters Saturday, Maduro said U.S. Secretary of State
Protesters on Saturday demanded that Maduro disarm groups of motorcycle-riding vigilante groups that the opposition says are responsible for the killings. Before his death last March, Maduro's predecessor, President
Tens of thousands of marchers, mostly dressed in white to symbolize nonviolence, filled the streets of Marquez barrio of eastern Caracas. Because anti-riot police blocked off several roadways in the area, leaders called for antigovernment demonstrators to merely gather, not march, at designated areas of Caracas and other cities across Venezuela.
The most recent victim was Geraldine Moreno, 23, a university student. She died Saturday after being shot in the head with rubber bullets by a National Guard unit in her home town of Valencia.
Meanwhile, thousands of female supporters of Maduro, mostly dressed in red caps and shirts, gathered in Morelos Plaza in central Caracas to march to the Miraflores presidential palace in a show of support for the government.
Rising violence was reported Friday in western Tachira state, where Maduro called out extra forces in armored vehicles to quell the disturbances. Oil and mining minister Rafael Ramirez threatened Friday to withhold supplies of gasoline in areas of protest unless government opponents ceased their demonstrations.
Also on Friday night, the sound of protesters clanging on pots and pans could be heard throughout much of the city in mass cacerolazo as the form of protest is known in Spanish.
Late Friday, Atty. Gen. Luisa
The National Committee of Academies, a group of scholarly associations representing law, medicine, arts and sciences faculties, issued a joint communique criticizing the government for stifling dissent and permitting armed groups to harm protesters demonstrating peacefully.