Venezuela situation escalates in violence
Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets as president Nicolas Maduro began the process of overhauling the country's constitution - a move that has raised the stakes in a bitter standoff between Maduro's government and a growing opposition.
“I see congress shaking in its boots before a constitutional convention,” Maduro said, referring to the opposition-controlled National Assembly in a speech to his supporters.
A fresh wave of unrest has engulfed Venezuela in the past month amid a severe economic and political crisis. Venezuela's economic output shrank some 18% last year and annual inflation this year is projected to top 700%, according to the IMF.
Protesters in Caracas faced off with police in a series of violent clashes on Wednesday.
Demonstrators lit vehicles on fire and police launched tear gas and deployed armored vehicles to stop crowds from reaching the steps of the National Assembly.
Some 1,700 people have been arrested at protests since the beginning of April, nearly 600 of whom remain behind bars, according to Penal Forum, a Venezuelan NGO that tracks arrests and violence surrounding the protests. ■