Retired archbishop calls for release of protesters amid Venezuela crisis

Maracaibo, Venezuela, May 1, 2019 / 02:39 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop Emeritus of Maracaibo demanded Wednesday the prompt release of peaceful demonstrators who were arrested the day prior during protests against the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Archbishop Ubaldo Ramon Santana Sequera said May 1 on Twitter: “I very much lament the detention of peaceful demonstrators yesterday here in Maracaibo. Among them are Cesar Perozo, an eminent cardiologist of international fame, and other doctors on his team. They should be promptly released.”

The streets of Venezuela were filled with demonstrators April 30 after opposition leader Juan Guaidó urged protests against Maduro, showing a video of himself with soldiers and with Leopoldo López, a fellow opposition leader who had been a political prisoner.

Guaidó declared himself interim president in January and has been recognized by a number of Western governments, but has been largely unable to secure the support of Venezuela's military.

Both supportors and opponents of Maduro have been on the streets in Venezuelan cities since Guaidó's call on Tuesday. The military responded to opponents in violent clashes, firing tear gas, and by arresting peaceful demonstrators.

Maduro said he had stopped an “attempted coup.”

Guaidó has called for continuing protests, and announced a series of strikes beginning May 2.

Under Maduro's socialist administration, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages and hyperinflation leading 3 million to emigrate.

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