Protesters rally behind arrested leader in Venezuela; unrest spreads abroad
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 01:34
Feb. 19 - Protesters demonstrate against the detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. An anti-government protest spreads to Washington. Nathan Frandino reports.
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Outside a heavily guarded Justice Ministry in Caracas... hundreds of opposition supporters rally in the streets.
They're awaiting news of Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader who faces charges of fomenting unrest in the country.
(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOPEZ'S LAWYER, JUAN CARLOS GUTIERREZ, SAYING:
"We don't want a jail trial without a hearing in a court. The fundamental idea of Mr. Lopez is to not just demonstrate his democratic right, but that there be due process, a trial with all the guarantees."
So far the unrest has killed five people.
As the army stands guard, Lopez supporters say he did nothing wrong.
(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LEOPOLDO LOPEZ SUPPORTER, CARLOS BAEZ. SAYING:
"We are here because, first of all, we've come to defend Leopoldo Lopez. Why Leopoldo Lopez? Because this has been condescending to all Venezuelans. He has committed no crime. His only crime is protesting for to better Venezuela. How can it be here that an opposition leader is sent to jail just for calling for a protest?"
The protests have become the biggest challenge to date for President Nicolas Maduro.
The unrest is even spreading to Washington.
On Wednesday protesters gather outside the Organization for American States to demand Maduro's resignation.
(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) EVENT ORGANIZER LISETTE MIROQUESADA SAYING:
"It has to be done in a democratic way but not under the current conditions. If Venezuelans don't speak up now, we won't achieve anything. We need the help of the international media and of the OAS."
A dozen or so protesters who support Maduro staged a rival demonstration across the street.
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