Merida, 18th April 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Opposition groups have clashed with police in Venezuela's capital ahead of planned Easter-themed demonstrations.
At least four people were reportedly arrested in the Chacao municipality of Caracas after protests in the wealthy area turned violent on Thursday.
According to the pro-government newspaper CiudadCCS, “hundreds of right-wing protesters” blocked roads and hurled petrol bombs and improvised incendiary devices at local police and the National Guard (GNB). Militants also threw rocks and glass bottles at security forces, and used improvised riot shields.
Three transport workers at a subway station in the area were also attacked by opposition groups. The attacks took place after workers tried to close the station. Since opposition protests flared nationwide in February, infrastructure has repeatedly been vandalised by anti-government groups, and state employees attacked.
One worker was hit with a glass bottle, while another was robbed, according to state media.
Clashes continued for around five hours, though opposition turnout was lower than the thousands that have attended previous anti-government demonstrations in recent weeks.
GNB and police were reportedly deployed to the area ahead of yesterday's demonstrations, which started just before midday.
Photographs published by private newspaper Ultimas Noticias at 2pm show small groups of masked demonstrators blocking empty roads with garbage.
By late afternoon, security forces had dispersed the demonstration with tear gas and non-lethal ammunition, and moved in to clear roadblocks.
Right-wing newspaper El Universal reported that Chacao residents described the actions of security forces as “strong repression”. According to the opposition aligned newspaper, the anti-government youth organisation, Juventud Activa Venezuela Unida (JAVU) has accused security forces of using agent provocateurs to spark clashes.
However information minister Delcy Rodríguez has slammed the militants, accusing anti-government groups of causing yesterday's violence.
Rodriguez stated that police were “victims of violent opposition attacks”.
More protests are planned over the Easter weekend, with religious themed demonstrations expected to take place. According to Reuters, opposition student groups plan to burn effigies of President Nicolas Maduro, and hold a barefoot march in Caracas.