Venezuelans pour into Caracas' streets for anti-government protest

Tense Venezuela faces fresh street protests

"PATH OF DICTATORSHIP" Capriles had urged a crowd of supporters in Caracas to march to the office of the state human rights ombudsman, whom the opposition says is a puppet of the government.

"We're not taking to the streets because we don't like Maduro", said opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Local media reported Ortiz was a university student planning to emigrate from Venezuela, like many in the middle class that have fled to Colombia, Panama, Chile or the US city of Miami to escape crime, political unrest, and an economic crisis.

The ruling said the sanction was due to "administrative irregularities" by Capriles in his post as governor of the northern state of Miranda.

Coming at a time of deep political and economic malaise in what was once one of Latin America's richest democracies, the judicial overreach was met with mass outrage - even from Venezuela's attorney general, a long time Maduro supporter. "They can stick their disqualification where the sun don't shine", he told a news conference. Capriles announced that he has been banned from running for office for 15 years, a move sure to ratchet up tensions amid a growing street protest movement. Maduro's opposition blames the violence on his political persecution.

Saturday's violence broke out when protesters gathered in the east of the city changed course at Capriles's request and headed downtown toward the government ombudsman's office.

"When the dictatorship squeals, it's a sign we're advancing", he said in a rousing speech surrounded by other leading opposition figures, many of whom themselves have been targeted.

- MIGUEL HENRIQUE OTERO: The editor of El Nacional, the last remaining national newspaper critical of the government, was barred from leaving Venezuela after the powerful head of the socialist party, Diosdado Cabello, sued him for slander for republishing an article from the Spanish newspaper ABC accusing him of ties to drug cartels. The following year, was again the opposition's presidential candidate, and lost to current president Nicolas Maduro by a small margin.

After this week's demonstrations, Maduro dismissed Capriles as "politically finished".

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Socialist Party official Freddy Bernal had slammed Capriles, one of the leaders of this week's anti-government demonstrations, for inciting protests and "looking for a few deaths to set the country alight".

In a ruling that enraged the opposition, the Supreme Court declared it could pass legislation without authorisation from Venezuela's parliament, the National Assembly (AN).

It drew worldwide criticism for last week's rulings, which seized the assembly's powers and revoked lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.

In late 2015, opposition parties won a majority of seats in the legislature, but the country's supreme court has ruled against them repeatedly, keeping them ineffective.

Capriles can appeal his ruling at the comptroller's office within two weeks.

The collapse in prices for Venezuela's crucial oil exports has sapped the country's revenues.

Ramsey added that there has been a tendency on the part of the United States to take a "cowboy approach" to Venezuela, which has only strengthened Maduro and pulled other politicians towards him.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Tens of thousands of demonstrators heeded opposition calls to take to the streets of Venezuela's capital on Thursday, blocking the city's main artery to protest what they say was an attempted coup by the government of Nicolas Maduro.

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