'Mother of all protests' in Venezuela

Demonstrators hurl flaming objects at riot police during a rally in Caracas against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday

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The economic crunch took another turn this week as the government seized a General Motors plant, promoting the auto giant to say it was halting operations in Venezuela.

The European Union today called for calm in Venezuela after "highly regrettable" deaths during protests against the government of the oil-rich country.

General Motors' announcement came as Venezuela's opposition moved to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, taking to the streets again Thursday a day after the biggest anti-government demonstrations in years.

The government has put hundreds of protesters in jail and stood by as groups who support the government have violently attacked opposition members of the congress.

But the government has shown little interest in backing down.

Demonstrators clash with the riot police during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, April 20, 2017. The court's ruling was later reversed, however, tensions remained in the country, which is suffering from a severe economic crisis.

On Monday, 11 Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, called on Venezuela's government to respect the constitutional right to peaceful protest. The ballot for state governors has been delayed since a year ago and elections authorities have not announced when it will be held.

"I participate in these protests, out of a sense of responsibility for being Venezuelan".

Marches have repeatedly ended in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, with rock-throwing youths squaring off against tear-gas-lobbing security forces in confused melees that drag on well into the evening.

"This is like a chess game and each side is moving whatever pieces they can", said Machuca, her face covered in a white, sticky substance to protect herself from the effects of tear gas.

At a press conference called by the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition, Henrique Capriles a representative of the Justice First party called on his followers to "resist" in the focal points that have seen violence and vandalism in the past weeks. As has become common in recent weeks on protest days, Venezuelan authorities will close 27 metro stations and likely set up checkpoints to slow entry to the city.

Jorban Contreras, a paramedic and director of the civil protection unit in Tachira state, said the woman already was dead from a gunshot wound to her chest when he arrived.

The Director of the Venezuelan Criminal Forum, Alfredo Romero, told EFE that the lawyers who were advising the arrested were constantly updating and verifying the figures in the capital as well as in the 23 states of Venezuela, as "too many cases had been registered in only one day".

In a third death, Venezuelan National Guard Sgt. Niumar Jose San Clemente Barrios was fatally shot Wednesday night, said the public prosecutor's office and Venezuela's top human rights official, ombudsman Tarek William Saab. Supporters of the government are holding a rival rally in Caracas. Six people have died and countless others, many journalists, have been injured.

"Today they attempted to take power by force and we defeated them again", said Maduro, adding that authorities rounded up several armed opponents seeking to carry out a coup.

Maduro late Tuesday accused the U.S. State Department of trying to promote a military intervention.

Analysts say there is less likelihood of a coup against Maduro because Chavez launched a broad purge of the armed forces following his brief ouster.

Foreign governments are also warning about the increasingly bellicose rhetoric and repressive stance of the government.

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