Students protest against constitutional assembly plan

Student protesters have clashed with the Venezuelan National Guard in Caracas as the anti-government protest movement nears the end of its third month.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and Molotov cocktails were exchanged on the highway near the capital’s Avila Terraces neighbourhood.

They were demanding a presidential vote and solutions to hunger and medical shortages.

The students were also protesting against the government’s proposed constitutional assembly, which President Nicolas Maduro says will end the protests.

Maduro’s opponents view it as a cynical tactic to buy time and create a biased body that could perpetuate his Socialist rule.

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Cristian Pereda, a student at Venezuela’s Central University, told Al Jazeera that even if the protests turn violent, he is determined to be out in the streets.

“I am here for the future of my country and my university,” the 18-year-old said.

“I have to protect myself with my helmet and what I can – even though the government says we are terrorists for using them.”

Another student, Alfredo Garcia, said the students are fighting for the basic rights of democracy and freedom.

“How can we discuss a constitutional assembly? We want to better the country and improve the economy,” he said.

Ongoing clashes

The protesters waved fliers and flags and continued to call for Maduro’s resignation.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo said clashes between students and police have been occurring every day.

“Students have been saying that the police and National Guard are aiming directly at them with tear-gas canisters,” she said.

“The students consider themselves as revolutionaries against a government they claim is more focused on holding on to power than on improving their lives.”

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Maduro has accused the opposition of using students to protest against him.

At least 75 people have been killed since the protest movement began nearly 90 days ago.

The deaths have included not only demonstrators, but also Maduro supporters, bystanders and members of the security forces.

There have been thousands of injuries too, and according to local rights groups, nearly 1,500 people remain behind bars after roundups around the country.

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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies