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Venezuelan students clash with police over court ruling

Venezuela Students protests

Venezuelan students threw Molotov cocktails and stones at police Wednesday in a protest against a Supreme Court ruling curbing the opposition-held legislature’s powers, authorities said.

Wearing masks in the colors of the Venezuelan flag, the demonstrators set up roadblocks in the western city of San Cristobal, the cradle of anti-government protests that shook the country in 2014.

The new protest was against a ruling by the high court Tuesday that stripped the National Assembly’s power to remove justices from the bench, which voided the opposition’s bid to undo what it calls unconstitutional court-packing by President Nicolas Maduro.

Governor Jose Vielma Mora said on Twitter that student protesters from Catholic University attacked police with stones and petrol bombs.

The protesters “use violence to support a National Assembly that wants to violate the rule of law,” the governor wrote.

An AFP reporter saw protesters throw rubble and stones at a police brigade near the seat of the state government.

Venezuela has returned to the boiling point since the opposition won a landslide victory in legislative elections in December, dealing a crushing blow to the socialist “revolution” launched by Maduro’s late mentor Hugo Chavez in 1999.

Riding a wave of outrage over a deep economic crisis gripping the once-mighty oil giant, the opposition has vowed to use its majority to oust Maduro from power.

But it has repeatedly been stymied by the Supreme Court, which it accuses the president of loading with allies.

The high court’s constitutional panel ruled Tuesday that the legislature’s oversight role is limited to the executive, quashing its attempt to review the lame-duck appointment of 34 Supreme Court judges — passed by the previous legislature in an 11th-hour session on the eve of the opposition takeover.

San Cristobal was also the scene of anti-Maduro protests that spread nationwide in 2014, leaving 43 people dead and more than 800 wounded.

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