Venezuela's president chased by angry, pot-banging protesters

President Nicholas Maduro had been visting a housing project on Margarita Island 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Saturday 03 September 2016 21:25
The footage was uploaded by activists
The footage was uploaded by activists

Venezuela has been stunned by video images that appear to show the country’s president being chased by a group of angry, pot-banging protesters.

Grainy cellphone footage caught what is said to be President Nicolas Maduro being pursued on Friday night by residents of Margarita Island, a celebrated holiday destination about 25 miles north of the mainland.

The Associated Press said that Mr Maduro’s visit to the island was broadcast nationwide. Images of the protest were later posted by residents of the town where it reportedly occurred. That footage shows residents from Villa Rosa banging pots and pans and jeering the socialist president during a visit to inspect state housing projects.

Mr Maduro had been visiting a state housing project

There was no way to independently confirm the veracity of the footage.

After Maduro left Villa Rosa, a rundown area known in the past as a pro-government stronghold, intelligence agents moved in, opposition and rights campaigners said. Reuters said that more than 30 people were detained.

The rare confrontation with the president, who succeeded President Hugo Chavez, came just days after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrate in Caracas on Thursday. Amid an economic crisis that has created a food shortage in the country, opponents are pushing for a recall vote of the president.

“Right now, there are more than 30 people detained ... as a result of the incident in Villa Rosa,” Alfredo Romero of Penal Forum rights group said on Twitter.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles published three videos of the incident on his Twitter feed. “The people loathe him and last night they made that very clear with the pots-and-pans protest,” he said.

The government did not comment on the incident in detail, but Information Minister Luis Marcano published a video on Twitter showing Maduro blowing kisses, pumping his fist and being cheered in Margarita.

“What you didn’t see in the videos manipulated by the right wing,” Mr Marcano wrote.

Buoyed by Thursday’s self-styled “Takeover of Caracas”, the opposition is planning further street actions to demand a recall referendum against Mr Maduro this year. On Thursday, Mr Maduro mocked what he said was just a mall number of protesters and claimed they were trying to oust him in a coup.

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