Elderly Venezuelans clash with police in opposition march

Elderly Venezuelans clash with police in opposition march

PanARMENIAN.Net - Thousands of elderly Venezuelans have taken to the streets of Caracas and other cities to protest against the government of Nicolas Maduro amid a worsening economic crisis, BBC News reports.

Police blocked access to a main road in the capital and used pepper spray to try to control the crowd.

Protesters threw punches and demanded respect from police.

Venezuela is facing a shortage of many basic items, including medicines and medical equipment.

Many feel that elderly people have been particularly affected by the crisis in the health system.

In another development, Maduro has sacked his health minister after she released official figures showing a sharp rise in child mortality and maternal deaths over the past two years.

Antonieta Caporale, a gynaecologist, had been in the post for only four months and was replaced by the Vice-Minister of Hospitals, Luis López.

The march was diverted but it eventually reached the office of Venezuela's ombudsman, where the protesters accused the security forces of brutal suppression.

At least 39 people have been killed since the current wave of protests began six weeks ago.

The unrest was triggered by a Supreme Court attempt to take over powers from the opposition-controlled National Assembly on 29 March.

It reversed its decision a few days later, but by then the opposition had seized the momentum.

To maintain pressure on President Maduro, opposition leaders have begun organising themed marches.

Last Friday, they urged women to take to the streets. There was a candle-lit march. And Friday's protest was dubbed "The Grandparents March".

The government responded with a rival march to show support to Maduro, with thousands of pro-government elderly people taking to the streets of Caracas.

The opposition is calling for fresh presidential elections.

Maduro says they are trying to create unrest to unsettle his democratically-elected socialist government and seize power.

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