Updated: March 12, 2014 1:39:02 pm
Students and opponents of the Venezuelan government have called a new rally on Wednesday to mark a month of protests in Caracas, as the death toll from demo-related violence reached 21.
Students throwing rocks and homemade firebombs clashed late on Tuesday with police who tried to disperse them with tear gas and water cannon. No injuries were immediately reported.
The anti-government demonstrations have been fuelled by rising discontent over deteriorating living conditions and police crackdowns in the oil-rich OPEC nation.
President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government has outraged many, particularly with shortages of basic goods like toilet paper and food, and amid spiralling violent crime and corruption.
Maduro vowed he would bar the protesters from entering the centre of the capital on wednesday, saying they are looking for trouble in an unauthorised rally.
“I am not going to let them in,” he said in a radio program. “I know they are coming with plans for violence.” The planned march could cross paths with a pro-government procession called by the education minister.
Political scientist John Magdaleno said anti-government protests would carry on but might start losing steam because they have yielded little.
Maduro, the handpicked leftist successor of the late populist firebrand Hugo Chavez, has denounced the protests as a coup in the making, encouraged by the opposition with the backing of the Unite States.
The death toll climbed to 21 after a student was fatally shot in the city of San Cristobal, authorities said on Tuesday.
The weeks of violence have left more than 300 people injured. Daniel Tinoco, 24, was killed Monday night in the western city where nationwide protests against the leftist government of Maduro first ignited February 4.
In Caracas they got under way February 12 and three people were killed in a big rally. Tinoco died from a gunshot wound to the chest, opposition Mayor Daniel Ceballos told AFP.
Since protests began, opposition leaders and government officials have blamed each other for the deadly violence.
The protests have spread to cities such as Caracas, Merida, Valencia and Maracay.
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