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Venezuela: Four people killed in far-right protests

Militias use force to impose ‘general strike’

AT LEAST four people have been killed as a further wave of far-right protests shook Venezuela over the last two days.

Two people died on Thursday in a fire in the Housing Ministry in Zulia state after a crowd of around 100 opposition supporters surrounded the building and set it ablaze, while two others were killed in clashes between opposition and government supporters.

Many others were taken to hospital during a “general strike” called by opposition figures on Thursday. The strike had mixed results with workers in some areas walking out, while others continued work as normal.

Supporters of elected President Nicolas Maduro, who disagree with the opposition’s bid to unseat him before his term expires, tweeted pictures of themselves at their desks.

But anti-government militants tried to use force to stop people getting to work in other areas, with one man seriously injured by a wire strung across a road to decapitate motorcyclists. TV station VTV was forced to close and evacuate its nursery after being threatened with violence if it opened.

At the state-run milk processing plant Lacteos Los Andes, workers joined National Guardsmen in pouring out of the factory to fight off a crowd that attacked it armed with Molotov cocktails and guns.

The so-called “strike” aims to derail President Maduro’s plan to summon a constitutional assembly on July 30.

Since the opposition won a parliamentary majority in late 2015, the country has been deadlocked as the national assembly has devoted all its efforts to overthrowing the president and refused to recognise rulings of the judiciary.

Mr Maduro hopes an elected constitutional assembly can rewrite the constitution and end the paralysis but the opposition are determined to prevent elections being held — backed by the United States, whose President Donald Trump has warned of “strong and swift retaliation” if Venezuela dares to hold the vote.

Venezuela’s ambassador to Argentina told a “people’s summit” on the sidelines of a meeting by South American trading block Mercosur in Mendoza that the violence in Venezuela was part of “an imperialist attack” whose “fundamental objective is to recolonise us, to end our sovereignty and take possession of our natural resources.”

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