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Venezuela: Teenager killed as mass protests rage

Venezuela: Teenager killed as mass protests rage

Opposition activists say another protester was also killed in the state. "President Nicolas Maduro is grateful to Doctor Antonieta Caporale for her work", he wrote on Twitter. They pledged to take to the streets again the next day. Working class people who have to traverse the capital for their jobs have adjusted their schedules to account for traffic shutdowns and take siestas to wait out clashes between protesters and police.

Tense scenes in Venezuela on yesterday as protesters faced off with police during a blockade aimed at pressuring President Nicolas Maduro to call for elections in the divided country. One was in critical condition after being shot in the head, authorities said.

Authorities thwarted an opposition push for a referendum past year and have also delayed state gubernatorial elections. Security forces have fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters who have hurled stones, petrol bombs and excrement. Representatives from 18 members of the Organization of American States approved a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela's crisis for May 31 in Washington.

Vice-president Tareck El Aissami announced late Thursday that Health Minister Antonieta Caprole was being replaced by Luis Lopez, previously secretary of health in the state of Aragua. He has pledged to resolve the nation's woes by convening a special assembly to rewrite the constitution - a move his opponents see as an attempt to buy time and cling to power.

The opposition is calling for early elections and the released of opposition politicians jailed in recent years, saying the socialist governments of Mr Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, have mismanaged the economy since coming to power in 1999.

Maduro and his officials say the crisis rocking the country is a US-backed conspiracy created to topple him and install a right-wing government.

In Caracas, demonstrators assembled a giant rosary with balloons hanging from a highway overpass. Others simply sat and held signs declaring their resistance.




Opposition leader Henrique Capriles responded by urging his supporters to take to the streets and protest "more than ever".

"We are against this fraudulent process", Capriles said on his radio broadcast.

Maduro blames the opposition for the country's crisis and the deaths, which have occurred on all sides, and mounting an "armed insurgency" against him with USA backing.

That brought the death toll in six weeks of protest to at least 39.

Violence flared in various parts of the country on Monday as the opposition held sit-ins and roadblocks, trying to keep up momentum in its bid to remove the socialist government.

Associated Press writer Hannah Dreier reported this story in Caracas and AP writer Christine Armario reported from Bogota, Colombia.

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