CARACAS – Marches in Venezuela on Saturday in support of the 33 judges appointed by the opposition-led National Assembly sparked another day of clashes, as demonstrators faced off with police and military personnel.
At least eight people, including reporters, were injured when the Bolivarian National Guard used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators.
“The (legitimate) judges are those appointed by the people yesterday, the usurpers are those that are occupying offices to please some criminals so that they can continue to commit misdeeds against the people,” said Freddy Guevara, vice president of the National Assembly, while taking part in the protest.
The opposition said it organized the march to the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) to express its support of the 33 judges appointed Friday by the National Assembly, while not recognizing some 30 judges appointed in 2015 by a legislature that at the time had a Chavista majority.
The opposition, which accuses the judges appointed in 2015 of serving President Nicolas Maduro and trying to undermine the parliament through its sentences, reported repression and intimidation on Saturday by security forces, but promised to continue putting pressure on the government on the streets.
Some of those injured by the security forces were participating in the march to the Supreme Court.
The most serious incident occurred in Barquisimeto, a city in the western state of Lara, where a local press photographer was severely beaten and wounded by the security forces, according to the National Syndicate of Press Workers (SNTP).
Later, the parliament announced that Angel Zerpa, one of the judges appointed on Friday to join the Political-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court, was arrested by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service.
According to the president of the National Assembly, Julio Borges, there have been instructions to arrest the 33 judges appointed on Friday, for which he asked the international community to stay “alert.”
The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) also announced another 48-hour general strike on Wednesday and Thursday to force Maduro to call off the Constituent Assembly election on June 30, through which the president seeks to rewrite the Constitution.
Since April 1, Venezuela has experienced a wave of anti-government protests.
At least 100 people have died, thousands have been injured and more than 4,000 arrested in violence linked to the protests, which have often turned into clashes with security forces.