Venezuela opposition leader gets 15-year ban from running for office
But if the public reaction to the Supreme Court's power grab is any indication, however, even a fractured and fractious opposition will dig in its heels at what it considers government abuses.
As the most dominant figure in the opposition over the past decade, Capriles has been at the forefront of the protests, the most aggressive since a wave of anti-government unrest in 2014, in which dozens of people were killed, many at the hands of security forces. On Friday, Capriles was banned from running for office for 15 years for misappropriating government funds for personal and political use.
"(This move) is typical of a dictatorship that violates civil and political rights", said Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, who has called for sanctions against Venezuela if it does not hold elections.
Over the last few days, authorities have also accused Capriles of fomenting violence and bloodshed by leading increasingly intense protests against the unpopular Maduro.
In a comment on social media, Capriles denied the charges and said the disqualification was illegal and politically motivated.
A comptroller's office spokeswoman said information regarding citizens being barred from office was provided only to the "relevant parties".
Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate, said Friday that the order stripping him of his ability to run in future elections only strengthened his resolve to resist on the streets.
The government calls it part of anticorruption efforts.
Mr Lopez had been expected to challenge late leader Hugo Chavez in the 2012 presidential election but handed the baton over to Mr Capriles, who lost that vote and another against Mr Maduro in 2013 after Mr Chavez's death.
State comptroller Manuel Galindo imposed the ban due to alleged "administrative irregularities" by Capriles in his job as governor of the northern state of Miranda. "I can't believe the government has been sitting with its arms crossed watching this country just fall apart", said maintenance worker Freddy Munoz as he ate a tamarind slush to cool down. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. The opposition says over 100 political activists have been jailed amid a wider crackdown on dissent. "You have to get rid of this government", said Asusena Aquilera, a 57-year-old retired finance worker who came to the protest with a flag draped around her shoulders.
Last week, the Supreme Court issued rulings transferring the National Assembly's legislative powers to itself and revoking lawmakers' immunity from prosecution.
The rallies turned violent Thursday when a man was fatally shot by police.
Local media reported Ortiz was a university student planning to emigrate from Venezuela, like many in the middle class that have fled to Colombia, Panama, Chile or the USA city of Miami to escape crime, political unrest, and an economic crisis.
While she said she was hopeful the world was beginning to see the injustices in Venezuela, her father, Carlos Paez, was more pessimistic.
Saturday's protest came after a week of anti-government demonstrations.
Venezuelan police officers face off with demonstrators Saturday in Caracas, where thousands of people took to the streets in another day of protests a.
The restiveness comes amid the country's deep humanitarian crisis sparked by an economic meltdown.
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