Venezuelan Students Attacked by Chavez Supporters

Anti-riot police try to stop an opposition student protester from advancing toward supporters of Venezuelas late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, March 21, 2013.
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Venezuelan students who were carrying out a march to demand fair elections in that country said that they were attacked by government supporters who threw rocks and bottles at them injuring at least four people.

The group of a few hundred students, who were mostly supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, was marching towards the headquarters of Venezuela´s National Electoral Council in downtown Caracas.

The group wanted to present officials with a letter, which argued that the electoral playing field in Venezuela is currently skewed heavily in favor of acting President Nicolas Maduro, threatening the prospects of free and fair elections on April 14th. But the march was confronted by supporters of Maduro, dressed in red shirts, who allegedly threw bottles and stones at the students, until police intervened, separating both sides with tear gas.

Police took students away from the site where confrontations occurred in buses, in order to avoid any further clashes, but supporters of Maduro -- the handpicked successor of the late Hugo Chavez -- got to say on the site.

Government supporters argue that election conditions in Venezuela are totally equal for both candidates, and that opposition sympathizers are merely trying to discredit the national electoral process, because they know that they will lose the election anyways.

"The (political) right doesn´t want to go to elections, because they will lose," Maduro supporter Paola Martruchi told the EFE News Agency, at the site of Thursday´s clashes.

But Venezuelan opposition groups claim that the government has given its self an edge in the elections, by using state funds to back the candidacy of Maduro, who is the handpicked successor of the late President Hugo Chavez.

The opposition also claims that the government disproportionately uses "national interest" broadcasts that must be carried by every TV and radio station in the country to promote the Maduro campaign. It also claims that the government implements mechanisms that intimidate people who are thinking about voting against the government.

One such mechanism are fingerprint scanners that people must pass through before voting in Venezuela. Students in Thursday´s march said that these scanners ought to be banned, because voters can think that the government is gathering information about them, and about who voted for which candidate, right before they cast their ballot.

Elections will take place in Venezuela on April 14th, and both candidates are aggressively touring the country already as they attempt to seduce voters.

The rhetoric from both sides has been rather harsh so far, with Maduro accusing Capriles of being an "oligarch" who backs "foreign interests," while Capriles has accused Maduro of being a "puppet" of Cuba´s Raul Castro.

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