Venezuelans pour into Caracas streets in anti-Maduro protest

Venezuelan bishops back anti-government protests, civil disobedience

Venezuelan opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles (C) talks with the media after a press conference in Caracas on April 7, 2017.

Many at Saturday's protest rallied behind Capriles, holding signs with his image.

The government move, which Mr Capriles, 44, announced on Friday, effectively prevents him from running against Mr Maduro in next year's general election.

State comptroller Manuel Galindo imposed the ban on Capriles due to his alleged "administrative irregularities" while serving as governor of the northern state of Miranda. "They" are the authorities of leftist President Nicolas Maduro, decried by critics as a dictator.

"The only one who is disqualified in this country is you, Nicolas Maduro, you and the corrupt drug-trafficking leadership that is with you!"

"If the dictatorship is squealing, it is a sign that we are making progress". Authorities last year canceled an opposition campaign to hold a recall referendum on Maduro, and no date has yet been set for gubernatorial elections that were supposed to take place last year.

New protests are planned for next week.

"The dictatorship wants to choose its opposition".

Be proactive - Use the "Flag as Inappropriate" link at the upper right corner of each comment to let us know of abusive posts. "Tomorrow we continue", wrote leading lawmaker Freddy Guevara on Twitter.

The court revoked the moves days later, but the opposition maintained its claim that Maduro's side was attempting an institutional "coup d'etat".

On Thursday, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol blamed Capriles for leading demonstrations that threatened to "destabilize the country".

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The ruling against Capriles comes days after the nation's Supreme Court, which is controlled by Maduro loyalists, attempted to shut down the opposition-controlled National Assembly altogether.

The rulings by the court, which has consistently ruled in Maduro's favor during the crisis, drew worldwide criticism of Maduro's camp.

The court later reversed the rulings after an global outcry, but kept in place other measures limiting the assembly's powers.

A Bolivarian National Police officer fires tear gas toward demonstrators during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, April 8, 2017. "So far many countries have seen the Venezuelan regime as democratic".

Venezuela has been pummeled by a brutal economic crisis that has millions skipping meals, unable to afford soaring prices for basic goods and facing long lines for scarce products.

The opposition blames Mr Maduro for the economic crisis. He says it is due to a capitalist conspiracy.

Negotiations have failed and he has resisted global pressure, while retaining backing from the military and control over most state institutions.

Police said a 19-year old youth died after being shot in the chest during a demonstration in the capital. "They're all identified. They will fall one by one and they will go straight to face justice", Maduro said.

Lopez was arrested in 2014, at the start of months of nationwide unrest that ultimately killed more than 40 people.

Maduro responded by calling for an "iron-fisted" investigation against Smolansky, saying his "criminal messages" are an attempt to lay the ground for a USA military intervention.

Capriles is a scion of one of Venezuela's wealthiest families, but his sometimes vulgar talk and mannerisms echo the late Chavez's populist style and he has tried to reach out to Chavez supporters.

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