Venezuela opposition keeps pressure in streets; one student killed

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans shut down much of the capital on Thursday and clashed with police to protest what they call an attempted coup by the socialist administration.

It was the largest opposition demonstration the country has seen in half a year. Many protesters carried signs reading "No More Dictatorship" as they crowded the principal highway that cuts from Caracas' wealthy eastern section to downtown.

Later in the day, a smaller group confronted lines of riot police who turned the crowd away from the city center with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. Some young protesters covered their faces with bandanas. Opposition leaders said more than a dozen protesters were injured in the clashes and a college student was killed.

Dubbed a "traffic jam against the coup," Thursday's demonstration was an attempt to show the government that the opposition will not let up pressure until early national elections are called. Many of those who braved the choking tropical heat under umbrellas and baseball caps said they had also participated in a Tuesday protest that led to handful of serious injuries and arrests. The government responded to Thursday's march by creating a traffic jam of its own, closing more than a dozen Caracas metro stations.

Caracas saw two similarly large anti-government demonstrations last fall, but protesters on Thursday said they thought this time might be different, with steady protests combined with escalating international criticism and intolerable shortages of food and medicine.

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