Government and opposition supporters returned to the streets of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on Saturday, one day after opponents of President Hugo Chavez coordinated a string of protests in cities across the world using the Internet.
AFP - Government and opposition supporters took to the streets of Caracas on Saturday, one day after protests were held worldwide against leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Leaders of the so-called "Democratic Alternative," a coalition of opposition groups, headed a large demonstration against a new education law approved last month.
Opponents say the law contains provisions intended to indoctrinate students.
In recent weeks police have arrested at least 11 people demonstrating against the measure at various protests, further angering Chavez opponents.
"If you want peace," said Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, addressing Chavez at the rally, "open the paths to dialogue."
Ledezma, a leading opposition figure, urged the president "to end the persecution of mayors and governors" that oppose the government.
Chavez supporters, led by several cabinet ministers, took to the streets in a different part of the Venezuelan capital to support the president's policies and denounce "imperialism."
They also rallied against a deal allowing US forces to operate anti-drug operations from military bases in neighboring Colombia.
Chavez froze relations with Bogota after the US-Colombia deal was announced, and has described the plan as a US attempt to violate the sovereignty of the region's nations.
Socialist Party leader Robert Serra said the demonstrators were also marching in defense of the Chavez opponents.
"If the United States intends to invade Venezuela they will not ask who is a Chavista and who isn't," said Serra.
Also Saturday, the head of Venezuela's national telecommunications commission, Diosdado Cabello, ordered that "administrative procedures" begin against private television station Globovision and 29 radio stations that could lose their operating licenses.
The measures against Globovision, which has been accused by Chavez's government of supporting a coup against him, came after a viewer message that reportedly called for the president's overthrow appeared onscreen during a broadcast.
"If you call for a coup d'etat, if you appeal for the murder of the head of state, you will be held responsible... We will apply the law and the constitution will be respected," Cabello said.
On Friday thousands of people gathered in cities around the world to demonstrate against Chavez.
A hundreds-strong crowd in Caracas accused the president of manipulating the population, while protestors in New York, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Hamburg, and Toronto accused him of destroying free speech in Venezuela.
Date created : 2009-09-06