New Venezuela clashes, US voices ‘grave concern’

Yahoo News-01Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela erupted Monday in a fifth day of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro as the United States voiced “grave concern” over moves to stifle one of his main opponents.

In the latest clashes in the once-booming oil exporter, riot police in Caracas fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators — whose leaders vowed not to let up the pressure on Maduro.

“This is a battle of resistance. We will see who gets tired first: us of fighting, or them of repressing,” said the deputy speaker of the opposition-majority congress, Freddy Guevara.

The streets of Caracas and several other Venezuelan cities have seen running battles in recent days as protesters have rallied demanding elections.

Police fired water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators, who hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, Russia, and even transnational criminal organizations.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform policymakers and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.