Opposition Leader Faces Charges In Tense Venezuela - KMSP-TV

Opposition Leader Faces Charges In Tense Venezuela

Posted: Updated:
Caracas, Venezuela -

From Reporter Gina Silva:

For Venezuelans living here in California, it is torture watching what is going on in their homeland. Communication is difficult.  At times, they say the government has been able to block some of the social media outlets.  Still, there are plenty of disturbing images coming out of that country.

Daniela Tomaselli Ortega and Fanny Veliz live in the San Fernando Valley but their families are stuck in the middle of violent anti-government protests in Venezuela. So far, 6 people have been killed and dozens more injured during this week's bloody demonstrations.  Understandably, these valley residents are extremely concerned for the safety of their loved ones.

Venezuelans say their oil rich country has been falling apart for years.  They say crime is out of control and residents are constantly dealing with a shortage of food due to government rationing.  Plus, the inflation rate is more than 50%. Ortega and Veliz say the government has taken over and people are finally saying enough is enough. Veliz is calling for the international community to stand up and help the people of Venezuela.

This weekend, there are several protests planned across the world to show support. There is one demonstration planned at noon on Saturday outside of the Federal building in Westwood.

 


(FOX 11 / AP) Violence is heating up in Venezuela as an opposition leader faces criminal charges for organizing a rally that set off a deadly week of turmoil in the oil-rich, but economically struggling country.

 

A judge ruled early Thursday that there is enough evidence to hold opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who dramatically surrendered to authorities before thousands of cheering supporters this week, on charges that include arson and criminal incitement stemming from a massive Feb. 12 rally.

Prosecutors decided not to pursue more serious charges, including homicide and terrorism, when Lopez made a court appearance at a military base outside Caracas after a night in which violence flared across much of the country. The 42-year-old politician could face at least 10 years in prison.

In a message on Twitter, the opposition leader's wife, Lilian Tintori, urged his followers on as she confirmed that he would remain in jail. "Change is within us all," she wrote. "Don't give up. I will not."

In the hours before the decision, President Nicolas Maduro had suggested in a nationally broadcast speech that Lopez would remain in custody and face criminal charges.

"I said, `Send him to jail,' and that's what happened and that's what will happen with all of the fascists," Maduro said in a speech that lasted more than two hours. "I won't allow him to challenge the people of Venezuela, the constitution."

The government has accused Lopez, a former mayor and the leader of the Popular Will party, of attempting to foment a coup in the South American nation.

As the waiting dragged into the night, anti-government protesters in Caracas and other cities set trash fires in streets and threw rocks at National Guard troops, who fired tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. Gunfire was heard in downtown Caracas while Maduro was on television. There was no immediate word on whether there were any new casualties.

Demonstrators are protesting Lopez's detention as well as the rampant crime, shortages of consumer goods and inflation rate of more than 50 percent that has made life difficult for many in the country of nearly 30 million people.

The president said he would take harsh measures in Tachira, an opposition stronghold on the nation's western border with Colombia where there have been fierce clashes between security forces and opposition protesters. Maduro said he was prepared to declare a "state of exception," a form of martial law.

"If I have to decree a state of exception for Tachira and send in the tanks, I am ready to do it," he warned.

Early on Wednesday, hundreds of Lopez's supporters waited outside a courthouse for news of his legal fate, watched over by National Guard troops. Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a member of a different opposition party, showed up at one point in a sign of unity among the various foes of the Maduro government.

"We are all united in demanding the release of Leopoldo Lopez," Ledezma said. "We are rallying behind him."

The crowd drifted away after hours of waiting when officials decided to hold the court hearing at the military jail outside the city where Lopez was being detained.

The opposition is planning marches across the country Saturday to protest Lopez's jailing, which has made him a cause celebre among opponents of Maduro. It's helping him to eclipse to some degree Henrique Capriles, the opposition's two-time losing presidential candidate who was building support for another challenge in two years.

Capriles attended a rally on Feb. 12 in Caracas led by Lopez but did not appear on the stage to address the masses of demonstrators. Clashes with police erupted afterward, after the opposition leaders and most of the protesters had left, and resulted in three deaths. In Twitter messages Wednesday, Capriles accused the government of infiltrating opposition demonstrations to provoke violence.

On Tuesday in Valencia, the third largest city, National Guard troops shot rubber bullets and unknown gunman on motorcycles fired live rounds at protesters. Genesis Carmona, a 22-year-old university student who had been Miss Tourism 2013 for the state of Carabobo, was struck in the head and killed by a bullet, a death that reverberated in a country that prizes beauty queens.

The troubles spread on Wednesday, including a significant clash in the wealthy Altamira district of Caracas. In southern Bolivar state, gunman firing from a rooftop at a pro-government rally killed one person and wounded four, Gov. Francisco Rangel Gomez said.

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • Immigration Issue Produces Congressional Disarray

    Immigration Issue Produces Congressional Disarray

    Friday, August 1 2014 10:48 AM EDT2014-08-01 14:48:49 GMT

    Once more, the tea party forced House Speaker John Boehner to blink. Minutes from a vote on legislation to deal with the immigration surge on the U.S.-Mexico border, and hours from scheduled adjournment for the summer, a conservative revolt left the speaker with no choice but to pull his border bill from the floor.

    Once more, the tea party forced House Speaker John Boehner to blink. Minutes from a vote on legislation to deal with the immigration surge on the U.S.-Mexico border, and hours from scheduled adjournment for the summer, a conservative revolt left the speaker with no choice but to pull his border bill from the floor.

  • Suing Obama: GOP-Led House Gives The Go-Ahead

    Suing Obama: GOP-Led House Gives The Go-Ahead

    Thursday, July 31 2014 10:17 AM EDT2014-07-31 14:17:05 GMT
    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority.
    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority.
  • Obama Prods GOP On Border Issue, Cites Progress

    Obama Prods GOP On Border Issue, Cites Progress

    Monday, July 28 2014 10:51 AM EDT2014-07-28 14:51:01 GMT
    With one week left before Congress' August recess, President Barack Obama is prodding Republicans to help ease the influx of minors and migrant families from Central America, but with chances dimming that border legislation will reach his desk before the break, he also is focusing on other ways to stem the flow.
    With one week left before Congress' August recess, President Barack Obama is prodding Republicans to help ease the influx of minors and migrant families from Central America, but with chances dimming that border legislation will reach his desk before the break, he also is focusing on other ways to stem the flow.
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices