Anti-government protesters pay tribute to victims of violence in Venezuela
Thousands of Venezuelans dressed in white marched in the capital Saturday to pay homage to the 20 people killed in anti-government unrest in recent weeks.
Protests have been roiling Venezuela almost daily since the pro-government Supreme Court stripped congress of its last powers three weeks ago, a decision later reversed amid a storm of international rebuke.
But for the first time since the protests began, demonstrators managed to cross from the wealthier eastern side of Caracas to the traditionally pro-government west without encountering resistance from state security.
Opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara, relishing the feat, likened the protesters' arrival in the city's more humble neighborhoods to "crossing the Berlin wall."
Once assembled outside the headquarters of the Roman Catholic bishops' confederation, religious leaders led the crowd in a moment of silence and asked God for strength. Then a string of political leaders passed around a megaphone and from the back of a pickup truck repeated their demands of recent days: immediate elections and freedom for dozens of jailed government opponents they consider political prisoners.
"Let it be heard: The dictatorship is in its final days,'' said Maria Corina Machado, opposition leader who was stripped of her seat in congress in 2014. The crowd responded with shouts of "Freedom! Freedom!"