Hundreds of women dressed in all white marched in Venezuela’s capital Saturday, continuing more than a month of demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro.
Saturday’s protesters, led by opposition leaders and lawmakers, marched to the Interior Ministry to denounce “repression” over the past month as demonstrators have been hit with tear gas by security forces.
Police in riot gear prevented the protesters from reaching the ministry. Isolated clashes between protesters and police took place in Caracas, media reports said.
Protesters were demanding that delayed state elections be held and that the 2018 presidential election be moved up. Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup and is working to rewrite the constitution.
Similar rallies were also held in several other cities.
The march came one day after a young man was shot in the head during clashes between demonstrators and security forces, bringing the death toll from such clashes over the past five weeks to 37. More than 700 others have been injured.
Also on Friday, a group of young men in Venezuela’s Zulia state destroyed a statue of the late leader Hugo Chavez.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, met with Venezuelan National Assembly President Julio Borges in Washington on Friday to discuss the ongoing crisis and need for the government to adhere to its constitution.
“They agreed that there is a strong need to bring the crisis to a quick and peaceful conclusion,” a readout of the meeting released Saturday by the White House said.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also released a statement on the protests, calling on Maduro’s “regime” to respect the constitution.
“We are deeply concerned about the Maduro government’s violent crackdown on protesters in Venezuela,” the statement said. “President Maduro’s disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people has heightened the political and economic crisis in the country.”
In a call with the president of Peru, U.S. President Donald Trump addressed the deteriorating situation in Venezuela.
A statement from the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary said Trump underscored to President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski that “the United States will work together with Peru in seeking to improve democratic institutions and help the people of Venezuela.”
The demonstrations started after the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s March 30 announcement that it would strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its legislative powers. The court reversed its position in the wake of domestic and international outcries about an attempted power grab.