Renewed Clashes in Venezuela after Police Detains Mayors

World | March 21, 2014, Friday // 11:53| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Renewed Clashes in Venezuela after Police Detains Mayors Demonstrators face off with members of the National Bolivarian Guard (GNB) as they protest against the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro at Altamira square in Caracas, Venezuela, 20 March 2014, Photo by EPA/BGNES

Anti-government protesters clashed with police in Venezuela after the arrest of two opposition mayors.

Police used tear-gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who hurled stones and sticks at security forces in the capital Caracas.

The newest clashes took place a day after San Cristobal's mayor Daniel Ceballos and San Diego's mayor Enzo Scarano were detained by the police, as the BBC reports.

Their arrest was ordered over alleged inciting of violence and participation in weeks of unrest that erupted in February and that left 31 dead across Venezuela.

The opposition, however, believes both mayors were victims of persecution and abuse and had taken to the streets to rebuild democracy.

The arrested were known for their criticism at the excessive use of force by police to disperse protests.

Interior Ministry Miguel Rodriguez has insisted that the government is not involved in the arrests, as the bodies of the state "act to protect the right of majorities, and not the rights of a small group that wants, under the guise of the right to protest, to mar the lives of Venezuelans."

The cabinet of Nicolas Maduro, who took the rule of Venezuela after the death of its long-year leader Hugo Chavez, blames the violence on fascist groups that are plotting a coup.

Maduro also said he has repeatedly invited opposition representatives for talks at the presidential palace.

The head of state has even suggested that the US is behind the mass demonstrations, as the "ultra-right" groups staging rallies are, in his words, "lobbying" for Washington, El Mundo newspaper quotes him as saying.

US Secretary of State John Kerry hinted on Tuesday his country might impose sanctions against oil-rich Venezuela.

Protests have rocked Venezuela over plummeting living standards, shortages of food and commodities and rising criminal activity.

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