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Venezuela Protests and Riots News: Hundreds of Students Arrested, Leads to More Unrest

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First Posted: May 10, 2014 01:55 PM EDT
Rodrigo Diamanti at a Protest
(Photo : Liberen a Rodrigo Diamanti / Facebook)

The government of President Maduro continues to crack down on the opposition. As the protests against the government dwindle, the Maduro administration has taken the opportunity to sweep off the opposition remnants; however they continue to fight back.

Earlier this week government forces removed anti-government protestors from four makeshift tent cities throughout the capital of Caracas. According to The Associated Press, 243 students were arrested in the sweeps that happened in front of the U.N. building and in affluent neighborhoods.

However, the recent crack down by the government has emboldened the opposition's resolve, erupting in a new series of protests.

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The news agency reports that students erected barricades in the streets and battled security forces on Thursday. They protested the imprisonment of the students and demanded their release, but the government stood by the arrests. Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres revealed weapons found in the camps, which included Molotov cocktails, guns and other weapons.

In the ensuing battles, one security officer was killed and another injured, AP reported, bringing the death toll to 42. Yet, the government continues to imprison those in opposition. According to Buzzfeed, human rights activist Rodrigo Diamanti was arrested this week. Diamanti is the head of the Venezuela group "Un Mundo Sin Mordaza" ("A World Without Censorship") and had organized the "SOS Venezuela" event via social media earlier this year; it led to various demonstrations around the world in support of the students.

Like the other 243 arrested, the Venezuelan government can hold Diamanti for 48 hours before charging him. Buzzfeed showed photos of Diamanti's office after being ransacked by security forces in the middle of the night. Diamanti's attorney Nizar el Fakih announced that he was released on probation Friday night but was not allowed to leave the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to move forward with sanctions against Venezuela. According to Al-Jazeera, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved a bill that would enact sanctions against Venezuela. The bill now passes to the full House for approval and would freeze U.S. accounts and properties of those targeted and cancel U.S. visas.

"[The bill] sends a strong message to [President] Maduro [Venezuela's president] that the United States Congress is well aware of the ongoing abuses perpetrated by his regime, and that they will not go unpunished," said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican sponsor of the bill. 

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