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 Sunday, 12 January, 2003, 23:46 GMT
Protesters march on Venezuela army base
Sunday's opposition march on Fort Tiuna
Tens of thousands took part in Sunday's demonstration
Troops in Venezuela have fired teargas and rubber bullets to break up an opposition march on the main military complex in the capital, Caracas.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters had advanced towards Fort Tiuna, but were stopped by a massive police presence.

All of this show of force is absurd

Henrique Capriles
Opposition mayor

The fresh unrest came on the 42nd day of a general strike aimed at forcing President Chavez from power.

On Saturday Mr Chavez threatened to take over schools and banks joining the strike - which has paralysed Venezuela's vital oil industry.

The president said he would fire or jail striking teachers and take over banks if they remain closed.

Election call

Opposition leaders condemned the heavy deployment of troops around Fort Tiuna, saying it was a provocation.

Riot police during Sunday's unrest
Fort Tiuna was heavily defended

"All of this show of force is absurd," said Henrique Capriles, the opposition mayor of an eastern Caracas district.

"People are tired of being assaulted and repressed."

Opposition leaders, business groups and trade unions accuse Mr Chavez of mismanaging the economy and trying to impose a left-wing dictatorship.

They want him to resign and call elections.

Mr Chavez accuses the strike leaders of attempting to overthrow a democratically elected leader.

'Horsemen of the Apocalypse'

The president says private television channels are backing what he calls the country's fascist opposition.

Hugo Chavez
Chavez calls the strikers 'traitors'

During his weekly TV and radio address on Sunday, he threatened to revoke the broadcasting licences of four of the country's main TV channels.

He called the station's owners "the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse".

The BBC's Adam Easton in Caracas says the channels regularly broadcast slick adverts supporting the strikers.

One of them gives viewers 10 seconds to think of a single government achievement in the past four years.

Our correspondent says although the country is heading towards economic collapse, Mr Chavez is refusing to give in to the opposition's demands.


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09 Jan 03 | Business
08 Jan 03 | Americas
07 Jan 03 | Business
05 Jan 03 | Americas
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