Venezuelans gear up for major march against Maduro

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The opposition blames the deaths on security forces and alleged paramilitary groups.

Opposition leaders hoped today's protests would succeed in attracting a broader range of Venezuelans, including those who are angry at the government but may be too intimidated by the threat of violence to march.

"We're convinced the country knows who the true coup mongers are, and it's against them we will march", the opposition said in a Tuesday late-night statement.

"Tomorrow even more of us have to come out".

A government supporter holds an image of Venezuela's late president Hugo Chavez, during a march in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Citing witnesses in Caracas, Reuters reports that Carlos Moreno, a teenage student who had not planned to join the demonstration, was shot in the head after "government supporters approached an opposition gathering and fired shots".

She said: "This is like a chess game and each side is moving whatever pieces they can". "I left her on a block where she was going to find her sister and I went to hide the bike".

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Jorban Contreras, a paramedic and director of the civil protection unit in Tachira state, said the woman already was dead from a gunshot wound to her chest when he arrived. "I tried to protect her as much as I could", he added, sobbing in front of her body.

Mr Maduro ordered troops onto the streets of Caracas before the rally and called on his supporters to attend. The opposition blamed both deaths to "colectivos", which have opened fire on protestors in every protest conducted on these past weeks.

AT LEAST three people were killed and dozens injured in Venezuela as hundreds of thousands of protesters hit the streets to denounce President Nicolas Maduro.

Clashes were reported across the country during the most sustained protests since 2014.

"We have to protest because this country is dying of hunger said Alexis Mendoza, a 53-year-old administrator marching in the Caracas neighborhood of El Paraiso". "There are a lot of people in the opposition and they are full of courage".

There have been five other deaths nationwide tied to protests that began in early April after the Supreme Court gutted the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers.

That move was later reversed amid overwhelming global rebuke and even a rare instance of public dissent in the normally disciplined ruling elite.

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The president's foes are calling for new elections, the release of political prisoners and an end to autocratic abuses of Venezuelan institutions.

Protesters gathered at one of Caracas' main highways.

Of these, 33 people had multiple injuries, 10 with asphyxiation symptoms “as a result of tear gas” used by the police forces to disperse the protest, and 14 with “fainting and stress related problems, ” according to Muchacho, who belongs to the opposition.

There was also concern that Wednesday's duelling marches could lead to clashes after the No. 2 socialist leader, Diosdado Cabello, said 60,000 die-hard government supporters would circulate on motorcycles to prevent the opposition from reaching its planned destination. Venezuela: Police firing teargas against a fleeing crowd in Caracas.

"Today the people stood by Maduro!" the president said, blasting his rivals as "anti-Christs".

The National Socialist Party has ruled Venezuela for 17 years.

Riding on high world oil prices, Chavez had created subsidies and price controls, raising living standards for the poor, but no longer.

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"The excessive ambition of [our] enemies threatens the peace and stability by carrying out a criminal agenda loaded with hate that includes terrorist acts, disturbances, looting, vandalism, different forms of violence against innocent people and public health facilities", Padrino said. The next presidential election is due in December 2018. The government has repeatedly blocked any attempts by the opposition to oust Maduro by a referendum vote. Two demonstrators were killed, as a political crisis in this failing state deepens. The Bank forecast 0.6 percent growth for next year on the back of projected firmer oil prices.

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