Pressure mounts on Venezuela's government

by

May 15, 2017
An anti-government protester affected by tear gas clears his nose during a march of elderly Venezuelans against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela on Friday.
An anti-government protester affected by tear gas clears his nose during a march of elderly Venezuelans against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela on Friday.
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

Elderly Venezuelans frustrated with medical shortages and the flight of grandchildren from their troubled South American country joined antigovernment street protests demanding elections on Friday.

Lines of police officers blocked thousands of protesters from advancing in the capital city of Caracas. White-haired demonstrators with raspy voices berated officers for not letting them through.

"Respect the elderly!" one yelled at the young officers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with plastic shields.

The protest, organised by the country's opposition coalition, was billed as the 'March of the Grandparents' and comes on the heels of six weeks of demonstrations against the embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro. Many of the elderly marchers said it made them angry to see a once-prosperous nation devolve into a country with triple-digit inflation, shortages of basic necessities like food and medicine, and one of the world's highest homicide rates.

FAILING PUBLIC HEALTH

A report released by the Ministry of Health this week underlined Venezuela's deteriorating public health. According to the study, 756 women died while pregnant or shortly after giving birth in 2016, a 66 per cent increase over the previous year. The deaths were caused by haemorrhages, high blood pressure and infections. Cases of infant mortality rose 30 per cent.

At least 38 people have killed in a wave of unrest that has followed a Supreme Court ruling stripping congress of its last powers, a decision it later reversed amid a torrent of international criticism. Most of those killed in protests and overnight looting have been young men in their 20s and 30s.