Venezuela crisis: President Maduro holds firm in face of widespread condemnation – Sky News

The atmosphere in downtown Caracas had changed dramatically.

There is a continuous swirl or rumours; coup, counter-coup and crackdown.

Journalists have been arrested by the national guard and some deported from the country.

Foreigners are vulnerable but local journalists more so.

There has been a huge increase in the numbers of national guard and police in the city centre.

We circled past them on motorbikes, keeping a distance, trying not raise suspicions.

Ranks of guards and police clad in full riot gear and supported by armed officers attempted to block groups of anti-government protesters trying to gather at meeting points for another rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Image: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is defiant in the face of large protests

The security services are a threatening presence – they are the enforcers of Maduro’s rule.

We weaved our way to one rally outside the country’s main children’s hospital.

They had gathered in their hundreds to support the opposition and their new leader Juan Guaido, who attempted to reach a number of the rallies.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido
Image: Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido at a rally in Caracas

Amongst the protesters were paediatricians and nurses who had stopped work to join in and vent their frustration at the government.

The medical staff are not necessarily politically-motivated personally, but they are all united in demanding changes in the country.

Hospitals are barely functioning. There is little medicine, equipment is broken, and there is no sign of change under the current administration.

Nurses have told me many times that people come to hospital to be cared for but not treated. There is no medicine available to actually cure people.

Daniel Pena
Image: Doctor Daniel Pena says he despairs for the children he is trying to treat

A doctor told me he despairs for the children he is trying to treat.

“We don’t have medicine, we don’t have the material to work in the hospital,” Daniel Pena said.

“The children here are dying, there is no food to give them to eat, there is no medication,” he added.

The protests were designed to be a public act of defiance; a lunchtime mini general strike ahead of more protests that are being planned.

For now the police and military remain allied to Maduro.

The opposition claims that 80% of the security services are against the regime. In an article for the New York Times Mr Guaido says he has held “clandestine meetings” with members of the military.

But on the streets of Caracas it does not really feel like they are rallying to his cause..

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As it stands the government is holding firm in the face of widespread condemnation by the international community and internal opposition.

But all that opposition can do is protest.

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