|Venezuelans enraged ahead of Chavez anniversary
Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Venezuela's capital Tuesday, seeking to keep pressure on the government on the eve of commemorations marking the anniversary of president Hugo Chavez's death.
Led by students, marchers dressed in white streamed peacefully through middle-class neighborhoods of Caracas toward Petare, a sprawling slum on the city's eastern edge.
But as night fell, about 300 radical protesters threw rocks and firebombs at national guard troops who responded with tear gas and water cannon in an affluent area that has become the scene of near daily clashes, AFP reports.
Three people were detained and a photographer was beaten by protesters.
At least 18 people have died and more than 260 injured since the protests erupted February 4 in the western border city of San Cristobal. It is the biggest challenge yet to the nearly year-old government of Chavez's handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro.
In Washington, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the “inexcusable violence perpetrated against opposition leaders and protesters.''
Back at the peaceful march in Caracas, protesters chanted “We love you Venezuela'' and “Freedom!'' as they waved flags in the red, yellow and blue national colors and stopped at the entrance of Petare.
The demonstrators said they wanted to show that protesters are not just from the middle-class and that the capital's poorer places are not all strongholds of the elected socialists.
“It's a lie that Petare is 100 percent Chavista,'' said Morela Perez, a 39-year-old unemployed resident of the barrio, which is known to include a mix of government backers and supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
Holding a sign that read “Petare you are not Chavista,'' she said protests have not happened there because people are afraid of pro-Chavez activists.
The demonstrators hoisted banners accusing the government of censorship and repression. “There is enough tear gas to make Venezuela cry,'' read one.