Gov't supporters, opposition take to Venezuela's streets as rifts stay open

As rifts in Venezuela widen, supporters of incumbent President Nicholas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido respectively held nationwide rallies on Saturday.

In the capital here, Maduro backers, many of whom were dressed in red, began gathering in the early morning. They waved flags and danced to music when marching to the presidential palace.

"Fill the streets of Caracas with joy and folk colors to show anti-imperialist Venezuela! Let protect peace and national independence together, in constant mobilization. No to interference!" Maduro tweeted.

Supporters of Guaido, some carrying Venezuelan flags, started rallying around Saturday noon. "Venezuela is not afraid and continues taking the streets until we achieve freedom," Guaido said before thousands of people who thronged on a broad avenue.

Guaido previously called April 6 "the start of Operation Freedom," saying it was "the start of a definitive phase to end the usurpation, where we are all now agents of change."

It was the first rally Guaido led after Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly on Tuesday unanimously approved the revocation of Guaido's parliamentary immunity, which implies that Venezuelan authorities may detain Guaido if necessary.

In the northwestern city of Maracaibo, two opposition politicians were temporarily arrested and some demonstrators were injured in clashes with the police, local media reported.

A series of widespread blackouts have disrupted production and daily life in Venezuela since it suffered the worst blackout on March 7 when a power outage plunged most of the country in darkness for about five days and led to shortages of water and gas.

Venezuela's opposition claims the power failures are the result of mismanagement and corruption, while the government has claimed that the outages have been deliberately caused by pro-opposition agents.

Moreover, the United States has been pursuing a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the Venezuelan government in support of Guaido.

In a new round of sanctions, it on Friday listed Venezuela-related companies and vessels as its designated targets.


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