Protests in Venezuela as opposition party denies coup

Vastavam Web: Venezuela faces calls for street protests today at the tensest moment yet in a political and economic crisis that has brought it close to collapse.President Nicolas Maduro’s opponents called on Venezuelans to take to the streets and urged the army to abandon him, branding moves to consolidate his power a “coup d’etat.” Maduro has clung to power in a more than year-long standoff with his center-right opponents, but on Friday a sign emerged of possible division in his camp when the attorney general broke ranks with him.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega denounced on live state television what she called a “rupture of constitutional order.” She was referring to two Supreme Court rulings this week that effectively dissolved the opposition-majority legislature and revoked lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution.Maduro’s opponents and political analysts alleged a coup and international powers condemned the moves.The government rejected that accusation.Maduro said in a speech to cheering supporters late yesterday: “In Venezuela, the constitution, civil, political and human rights and people power are in full force.”

The legislative speaker, Julio Borges, called on the military and other institutions to follow Ortega’s example and speak up against Maduro.”Now is the time to obey the orders of your conscience,” he said.Street protests erupted for a second day Friday in Caracas. Students marched on the Supreme Court, where they scuffled with soldiers.Protesters also blocked streets in the working-class Petare neighborhood, and opposition lawmakers clashed with Maduro supporters downtown.Two students and a journalist were arrested, activists said.