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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Venezuelans march against Chavez
Hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets

Hundreds of thousands of people have marched through the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in a protest against the government of President Hugh Chavez.


Coup or elections - who cares? Chavez out!

Protest banner
Opponents of the Venezuelan leader are urging him to step down or call early presidential elections as the only solution to the country's deep political and economic crisis.

The government deployed troops on the streets amid fears the march could spark violence.

Anti-government protesters waved red, blue and yellow national flags and blew whistles as they walked eight kilometres (five-miles) through the capital before holding a rally in central Caracas.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Chavez accuses some opponents of plotting another coup

Many called on Mr Chavez to step down immediately or at least call early presidential elections.

A former coup leader, Mr Chavez was democratically elected with a huge majority four years ago on a platform of fighting corruption and poverty.

But many of the marchers said the president has failed to live up to his promises.

They accused him of acting like a dictator, saying his fiery left-wing rhetoric promotes class hatred and violence.

Split society

Venezuelan society is deeply polarised.

Mr Chavez has united many sectors of society against him but he retains loyal support among his mostly poor supporters.

To make matters worse, the country is undergoing an economic crisis.

Although Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil exporter, its economy contracted by more than 7% in the first half of the year.

The march is the fifth in Caracas since Mr Chavez was briefly toppled following a similar demonstration in April.

The Venezuelan president has accused some of his opponents of trying to use the march to provoke another coup against him.

The homes of several military officers and a former foreign minister suspected of being involved in a new plot have been raided in the last few days.

It appears unlikely the marchers will succeed in their aim of forcing early elections.

Mr Chavez has refused to give in to their demands so far, saying his opponents will have the chance to vote him out of office through a referendum scheduled for August next year.


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06 Oct 02 | Americas
14 Aug 02 | Americas
09 Jun 02 | Americas
14 May 02 | Americas
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