Venezuela prepared for the commemoration of socialist leader Hugo Chavez's death on Tuesday despite the fact that continued unrest against his successor has claimed 18 lives, injured several others and gotten more than 500 arrested.
The day also coincides with the long national holiday weekend for Carnival when Venezuelans traditionally abandon cities and head for Caribbean coast beaches for celebrations.
The protests come almost a year after 58-year-old Chavez died on March 5th, 2013, after losing a two-year batter with cancer. He ruled Venezuela from 1999 until his death, which marked the end of Latin America's most remarkable populist rule. The open critic of the United States was deeply mourned by his people.
Nicolas Maduro, who is generally considered to be Chavez’s replica in terms of his socialist principles, assumed the powers and responsibilities of the President after a special election was held in April.
However, a vast majority of Venezuelans soon grew tired of his policies and took to the streets against the new leader, denouncing rampant crime, political corruption and inflation.
Within a matter of days, the peaceful sit-ins, initiated by students mostly, turned into violent anti-government riots after law enforcement forces responded with brutal force.
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Leopoldo Lopez, one of the opposition leaders who called on his supporters to take to the streets earlier in February, said that Maduro’s government planned the bloodshed to try and discredit his peaceful movement.
"The government is playing the violence card, and not for the first time," Lopez told Reuters TV before he was imprisoned over charges of conspiracy and murder.
People are protesting, despite the long weekend but a lot of Venezuelans are also commemorating their old leader’s death while taking part in the Carnival preparations.