Venezuela opposition leader banned from office for 15 years

"We also reject the rationales the Maduro government proffers for its repressive actions, which, when closely examined are spurious and, politically-motivated, and without basis in domestic or global law", a U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Saturday.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has called for an investigation against a leading opposition politician for suggesting the government was carrying out a Syria-like chemical attack against protesters. Protesters lobbed rocks and petrol bombs and burned rubbish in the street. Around a hundred protesters broke into an office of the Supreme Court. Dozens of people were killed in those protests, many by security forces. He is the governor of Miranda State and lost a hard-fought presidential election to Hugo Chavez in 2012.

Venezuelan authorities have vowed to investigate the killing of a 19-year-old man during anti-government demonstrations, the first protest death since a controversy over the Supreme Court began.

Thousands of Maduro opponents marched on Thursday to protest a decision by the administration-leaning top court to assume control of the opposition-led congress in what demonstrators said was a lurch toward dictatorship.

The court reversed the rulings days later, but the opposition intensified its protests, prompting police to fire tear gas and water cannon. As police blocked the protest, clashes erupted. Even amid this current round of unrest, he has consistently emphasized that protests are no more than a means to what he sees as a more important end that will bring about change: general elections.

The Interior Ministry said that transit police officer had been arrested but denied opposition claims that Ortiz was taking part in any demonstration.

The Venezuelan government announced on Saturday that opposition leader Henrique Capriles [Twitter profile] has been banned from holding office for 15 years by the Venezuelan state comptroller.

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"The only one who is disqualified in this country is you, Nicolas Maduro, you and the corrupt drug-trafficking leadership that is with you!" As night fell, many streets still reeked of tear gas and a small group of youths burned trash and tore down street signs at busy intersections in eastern Caracas. "They're all identified. They will fall one by one and they will go straight to face justice", Maduro said.

Today, unemployment is up and wages have declined dramatically.

"I am eager for elections to be convened for governors and mayors" to teach the opposition a lesson, Maduro said yesterday on his weekly television program. More then a hundred political prisoners are now behind bars, the New York Times reported recently, up from 89 a year ago.

"People got dispersed. The repression was brutal".

On Wednesday, similar clashes broke out in the western city of San Cristobal, the scene of deadly riots and looting previous year, and in the city of Valencia.

For now, there's no end in sight to the protests. But with Caracas shutting down for the Easter holiday which Maduro extended by decree for three extra days they appeared to be saving their strength for a major demonstration which has been called for on April 19th.

"It's been two years since I've been out on the streets", said Richard Morton, a 43-year-old electrical engineer who said shortages make it tough to import medical equipment needed in his work, as he prepared to march under Caracas' hot sun.

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