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Venezuela crisis: Deadly clashes as millions join strike

Venezuela crisis: Deadly clashes as millions join strikeImage copyright AFP Image caption Protesters and police clashed in several cities across Venezuela

Millions of Venezuelans have joined a general strike called by the opposition as pressure mounts on President Nicolás Maduro to cancel elections for a new constituent assembly.

Clashes between police and protestors killed at least three people. More than 300 others were reportedly arrested.

Mr Maduro said the strike was minimal and that its leaders would be arrested.

Since April, when opposition protests intensified, almost 100 people have died across the country.

Protesters barricaded roads in the capital, Caracas, and other cities with rubbish and furniture. The opposition said that 85% of the country joined the strike.

But in pro-government areas of the capital, life went on as usual, with shops open and streets busy. Public employees also appeared to have worked normally.

In several cities, police fired tear gas as they clashed with protesters. One death was reported on the outskirts of Caracas while two others died in the northern city of Valencia.

More than 360 people had been arrested across the country, a local rights group said .

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Demonstrators set up barricades on streets in several cities

Colombia, France, Spain, the US and the EU have urged the Venezuelan government to cancel the vote for a new constituent assembly on 30 July.

But Mr Maduro has rejected the calls.

In a speech on TV, he claimed "triumph", saying that key sectors had not joined the strike.

"Work has triumphed, love, life, and hope; work has triumphed. They [the Venezuelan opposition] who have never worked, let them carry on not working, we are moving forward, comrades."

"I've ordered the capture of all the fascist terrorists."

Image copyright Twitter/VTV Canal 8 Image caption State-run media retweeted pictures of oil sector workers in their offices

The assembly would have the power to rewrite the constitution and to bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.

Opposition politicians say Mr Maduro wants to use the assembly to entrench himself in power, while the president argues a new constitution will promote dialogue in the polarised country.

The opposition have ramped up their schedule of protests in the days leading up to the elections, including Thursday's general 24-hour strike and a mass demonstration on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Isaias Medina, a senior diplomat representing the country at the UN, resigned, saying he could no longer represent the government because of human rights abuses.

Venezuela's ambassador to the UN, Rafael Ramirez, said Mr Medina had acted "dishonestly" and been fired.

Venezuela crisis: Deadly clashes as millions join strike

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Media caption Your video guide to the crisis gripping Venezuela

Earlier, the head of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, warned of a "calamitous deterioration" of the situation, accusing Mr Maduro's government of having "blood on its hands".

"Behind every detainee, every political prisoner, every person tortured and every person killed there is someone that is institutionally responsible," Mr Almagro wrote in a report .

"The fear that is on everyone's mind, but

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Why three isn't a crowd: Meet the trio who 'married' each other

Why three isn't a crowd: Meet the trio who 'married' each other - BBC News...

Three-way weddings

Three-way weddings

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Media caption Meet the three men who 'married' each other

A so-called "throuple" in Colombia have been hailed as having the first legal union between three men in the world. So will we see three-way marriages in the future?

"Victor tells the bad jokes," says Manuel.

"Very bad," agrees his partner Alejandro.

"I tell the smart ones," says Manuel.

Manuel José Bermúdez Andrade, Víctor Hugo Prada and Alejandro Rodríguez are all in a relationship together. They used to be four but their boyfriend Alex Esnéider Zabala died in 2014.

"The decision to marry was there before Alex died, the four of us wanted to get married," says Víctor.

"Alex's cancer changed our plans. But I never gave up."

When Alex died, the remaining three, who live in the Colombian city of Medellín, say they had to fight to be seen as his partners and get access to his pension.

It made them all the more determined to get legal recognition of their relationship.

Image caption Alex Esnéider Zabala was in the relationship for eight years before he died in 2014

They are now planning their long-awaited wedding ceremony after a supportive lawyer signed a special legal document last month.

"A document that tells us we are a family, and live together as three under the same roof, sharing a bed, a table, everything a family does," explains Víctor.

'Unimaginable'

The paperwork formalises their union, but it is not a full marriage certificate. Like in most countries - except those that accept polygamy - it is illegal to marry more than one person in Colombia.

But Alejandro, Manuel and Víctor's legal success is a big step forward in a world where group marriage has been firmly off the agenda.

Could cases like theirs signal the start of a concerted effort by campaigners to allow it?

"The movement is absolutely going to develop if the activists so choose," says Hadar Aviram, a professor of law at University of California in the US.


What is a polyamorous relationship?

  • A romantic relationship where those involved agree it is OK for everyone to be open to or have more than one romantic partner
  • Some groups allow their members to seek additional partners, while others do not
  • Distinctions are drawn with polygamy - or more specifically polygyny - in Muslim societies and fundamentalist Mormon communities when one man may have multiple wives, based on a perception this is inherently disempowering for women

Source: More than Two

Read more


Prof Aviram said she found little appetite for marriage among polyamorous groups when she first started her research in 2004 but she began to see a change around 2012.

A study by the US-based organisation Loving More the same year found that 65.9% of more than 4,000 polyamorous people said would want to marry multiple people if such marriages were legal.

The same year there were reports of a three-way civil union in Brazil. In 2015 three men in Thailand apparently

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Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as millions join strike

Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as millions join strikeImage copyright Reuters Image caption Protestors and security forces clashed in several areas of Caracas

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) has warned of a "calamitous deterioration" of the situation in Venezuela as millions of people joined a nationwide strike.

"The fear we have... is that this situation could turn into a bloodbath," Luis Almagro said before the strike.

Police and protestors clashed in parts of the capital, Caracas. Two people have been killed across the country.

Since April, almost 100 people have died in opposition protests.

Clashes between security forces and protesters were reported, with at least 80 people detained, a rights group said.

One 24-year-old man was killed on the outskirts of Caracas, while a 23-year-old man died in the northern city of Valencia, AFP news agency reports.

Protesters barricaded roads in Caracas and other cities with rubbish and furniture.

Opposition websites showed photos of deserted streets in the capital while government supporters tweeted pictures of themselves at work to show they were not joining in the strike.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Some streets in Caracas were uncharacteristically empty during rush hour

In his third report on the economic and political crisis in Venezuela, Mr Almagro accused President Nicolás Maduro's government of having "blood on its hands".

"Behind every detainee, every political prisoner, every person tortured and every person killed there is someone that is institutionally responsible," Mr Almagro wrote.

"This regime and its rampant corruption are responsible."

Image copyright Twitter/VTV Canal 8 Image caption State-run media retweeted pictures of oil sector workers in their offices

Mr Almagro has long been one of the fiercest and most outspoken critics of the Venezuelan government.

But in recent days he has been joined by a number of international leaders in putting pressure on President Maduro.

In a speech, the president said the disruption was minimal and that some of the leaders of the strike would be jailed.

"I've ordered the capture of all the fascist terrorists," he said.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Opposition supporters used trees to blockade streets in Caracas

Meanwhile, Isaias Medina, a senior diplomat representing the country at the UN, resigned, saying he could no longer represent the government because of human rights abuses.

Venezuela's ambassador to the UN, Rafael Ramirez, said Mr Medina had acted "dishonestly" and been fired.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro said the Venezuelan government had "blood on its hands"

Colombia, France, Spain, the US and the EU have urged the Venezuelan government to cancel elections for a constituent assembly on 30 July.

On Tuesday, the New York Times and Spain's El País newspaper published an opinion piece by renowned Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel saying that the assembly was "not the answer".

Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as millions join strike

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption Your video guide to the crisis gripping Venezuela

The assembly would have the power to rewrite the constitution and to bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.

Opposition politicians say Mr Maduro wants to use the

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