Venezuelans mass for year’s largest anti-government protests

AP, By Hannah Dreier, May 30

Caracas – Thousands donned white and took to the streets in cities across the country Saturday in the biggest show of frustration with Venezuela’s socialist administration since a wave of bloody anti-government protests a year ago.

The day of marches was called less than a week ago by imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. In a video leaked from his prison cell, Lopez urged demonstrations to demand a firm date for this year’s legislative elections and freedom for jailed opposition politicians like himself who human rights groups consider political prisoners.

A Harvard-educated former mayor, Lopez has been jailed for 15 months in connection with his leadership of the spring of 2014 protests that resulted in dozens of deaths on both sides of Venezuela’s yawning political divide.

The opposition coalition did not endorse Saturday’s rallies, underscoring longstanding fissures among critics of the country’s 16-year socialist government. Before his imprisonment last year, Lopez clashed with other high-profile politicians, including moderate opposition leader Henrique Capriles, about the wisdom of organizing nationwide protests.

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