Venezuela protesters target Maduro, vow to keep up pressure

Riot police in Caracas and other cities fired tear gas and water cannon at stone-throwing demonstrators, whose leaders vowed to keep up pressure on Maduro. We urge demonstrators to express themselves non-violently and call on government security forces to protect peaceful protest, not prevent it.

"The existence of isolated acts of violence during protests can not justify a blank restriction of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression or the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against demonstrators", the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said Tuesday.

The deaths come as demonstrations against unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro escalate amid a grueling economic crisis and what critics say is his transformation into a dictator.

A dozen people were injured in the protest Monday, and opposition leaders shared a video they said showed an infant being whisked away after being overcome by tear gas. He said 134 people remain detained, eight of whom he said are considered political prisoners. News that the national comptroller on Friday had banned high-profile opposition leader Henrique Capriles from office for 15 years drew broad criticism, too.

Venezuela erupted Monday in a fifth day of violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro as the United States voiced "grave concern" over moves to stifle one of his main opponents. The motive: "inhaling tear gas", Pableysa Ostos wrote.

"We need to get out on the street and fight, to tell these people we don't want them", said Maria Guedez, a 67-year-old homemaker carrying a sign that read "No more dictatorship".

Demonstrations across Venezuela were sparked by the Supreme Court's decision to strip the country's National Assembly of its power last month.

Officials also used the protest to garner support in rejecting the opposition's continued call for protest.

However, the opposition, which has been protesting in the last two weeks to demand early elections, pounced on the incident as evidence that Maduro is deeply despised amid food shortages and spiraling inflation. The prosecutor's office said in a statement it was investigating the incident.

Most of the protesters are peaceful and say street action is their only option after authorities previous year blocked a recall referendum to remove Maduro.

Another 19-year-old man, Jairo Ortiz, died on Thursday after being shot in the chest when police broke up a protest in Caracas.

Maduro was in Havana for a meeting of foreign ministers of the leftist ALBA bloc, a Latin American group co-founded by his late mentor, Hugo Chavez.