CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A senior diplomatic official for the Western Hemisphere was in Miami condemning the government of Venezuela as the opposition in the South American nation flooded into the streets for a massive demonstration.
Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro told an audience at an economic forum that Venezuela has “deteriorated into a full-scale dictatorship.” He said Venezuelans have been denied basic human rights and that the government of President Nicolas Maduro is only concerned with maintaining its power.
Almagro said the OAS would continue to seek a restoration of democracy.
He spoke Wednesday at the 7th World Strategic Forum at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
The OAS recently issued a strong rebuke to Venezuela for the slide toward militarism. Maduro said the hemispheric organization was persecuting his country.
Marchers in the opposition demonstration in Caracas included Liliana Machuca, who earns about $20 a month holding two jobs teaching literature.
Her face was covered in a white substance to protect herself from the nauseous effects of what she expects will be another day of dodging tear gas canisters.
Machuca said during Wednesday’s march says she doesn’t expect change overnight, but believes that protesting is her only option after all the abuses she says have been committed by the government.
She says: “This is like a chess game and each side is moving whatever pieces they can. ….. we’ll see who tires out first.”
A short block away from where the opposition was gathering, a sea of red-shirted government supporters marched by calmly, some dancing to a salsa band.
They included state workers like Leidy Marquez, who was bused in from Tachira state on the other side of the country.