Thousands of Venezuelans demonstrate against opposition leader ban

The rally on Saturday was marked by anger over a ruling from the leftist government banning opposition leader Henrique Capriles from office for 15 years.

His death is the first in the protest waged by thousands on the streets of Caracas against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, demonstrations that began after last week's Supreme Court decision to usurp the functions of the legislature, largely seen as the last stronghold as the opposition.

Thousands of people, some carrying signs reading "Dictator Maduro!" and "Elections now!" in support of banned opposition leader Henrique Capriles, took part in the protest.

The ruling said the sanction was due to "administrative irregularities" by Capriles in his post as governor.

The two-time presidential candidate said on Friday the order stripping him of his ability to run in future elections only strengthens his resolve to resist on the streets.

Before concluding, the religious asked God to "bless our suffering people, and may the Virgin of Coromoto, who knows the sentiments of the Venezuelan people, be the mother who accompanies her children who are beaten down with suffering and bewilderment by the destructive policies that simply impoverish the nation in exchange for the unscrupulous enrichment of the politicians of the day". We'll see you on the streets of Venezuela @nicolasmaduro. Those protests ended with the arrest of his main rival within the fractious opposition, Leopoldo Lopez, whose dogmatic politics appeals to hardliners but has often alienated poor voters who backed Hugo Chavez's revolution but are fed up with Maduro's inability to fix widespread shortages and triple-digit inflation.

Thursday's march culminated in clashes, and opposition leaders said Jairo Ortiz was shot in a Caracas suburb that night by security forces that were breaking up a protest there.

While the widely condemned decision was quickly overturned, the opposition has stepped up street protests against Maduro, even though such demonstrations have achieved little in the past.

"More than yesterday, more than today, tomorrow there will be a surplus of reasons to protest across the country against this self-coup", Capriles said in a second tweet Friday. The court pulled that decision back after it came under heavy criticism, but opposition leaders said the attempt to invalidate a branch of power revealed the administration's true dictatorial nature.

The move effectively bans Capriles from running against socialist President Nicolas Maduro in a general election due next year. And while worldwide pressure has eased, Venezuela's opposition alliance has become emboldened, pushing to purge the courts of Maduro loyalists, to free political prisoners and to win new elections.

Since Tuesday, anti-government demonstrators have been attacking National Guard and police officers with sticks, rocks and trash cans in the socialist country's capital. "They insist on siding with the dictatorship but we are going to keep moving forward", said opposition lawmaker Juan Andres Mejia.

The local mayor's office said Ortiz was a 19-year-old student at a local university.

The opposition is trying to build momentum after its attempt to oust Maduro with a recall referendum fizzled previous year. Human rights groups say Venezuela is holding more than 100 political prisoners.

"“We're all exhausted and we all come out to protest", Carlos said.

Lopez was arrested in 2014, at the start of months of nationwide unrest that ultimately killed more than 40 people.

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