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Venezuela's pro- and anti-government forces take to streets

CCTV.com

09-02-2016 09:59 BJT

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CARACAS, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's capital Caracas on Thursday braced for massive pro- and anti-government rallies designed to flex political muscle.

Supporters of Venezuela's right-wing opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), began gathering since early morning in east Caracas as part of what the movement called "The Taking of Caracas."

Meanwhile, government sympathizers wearing red, the color of the ruling socialist party, gathered for a counter march, carrying flags and handwritten signs calling for "Peace" and denouncing a "coup".

Minister of Communication and Information Luis Jose Marcano urged the people "to take to the streets for sovereignty and peace," in a message posted on Twitter.

In the lead-up to the day's show of force by the opposition, President Nicolas Maduro and officials have been warning against the outbreak of violence, which marked anti-government demonstrations in 2014.

According to state TV network Telesur, Freddy Bernal, leader of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), warned that the opposition had developed a three-pronged strategy to topple the government: Thursday's protests, followed by the kidnapping of key socialist leaders, such as legislator Diosdado Cabello, and finally a coup.

Bernal also sounded optimistic about a strong showing by government supporters, despite the country's prolonged economic woes.

"We have a party with high moral, we have a party that is fighting, we have a party filled with joy, a party that is going to defeat the right wing peacefully," Bernal said in an early morning TV program.

Jesus Torrealba, the executive secretary of the MUD, said the anti-government march will conclude at 2 p.m. local time, after opposition leaders read aloud a final communique.

Security personnel have been stationed throughout the city to ensure the protests take place peacefully.

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