Al Jazeera – Key moments in Venezuela’s crisis. A chronology of key events that have led to Venezuela’s political unrest.
Over the past 90 days, Venezuela has seen near-daily demonstrations – with anti- and pro-government protesters taking to the streets.
The political roots of the protests go back to 2016, when the Supreme Tribunal of Justice suspended the election of four legislators for alleged voting irregularities.
The opposition swore in three of the legislators. The entire opposition-led National Assembly was in contempt and the supreme court ruled that any decisions it made would not stand.
In early 2017, the National Assembly refused to approve the state-run oil company PDVSA forming joint ventures with private companies, the government went to the supreme court, which ruled that it would take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly.
Protests broke out the next day. Below a timeline with the key events that have lead to this political unrest.
The Venezuelan constitutional crisis began, with immunity being taken away from opposition parliamentarians by the Supreme Tribunal, with it assuming legislative powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
Protesters blocked roads, unfurled banners and chanted slogans against Maduro’s government, including “Freedom!” and “No To Dictatorship!”
Security forces repressed protests that broke out in Venezuela’s capital.
Governments across Latin America condemned the government move, which the head of the Organization of American States likened to a “self-inflicted coup” by socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela’s supreme court abandoned measures to take over the opposition-led congress.
The announcement came hours after Maduro had called the court to annul its initial ruling “in order to maintain institutional stability and the balance of powers”.
With thousands out on both sides, supporters of the 54-year-old president organised their own rally, in a volatile scenario seen constantly during the 18 years of leftist rule in the South American nation.
“They want an intervention in Venezuela,” said prisons ministry worker Juan Aponte, 34, who wore the red colours of the governing Socialist Party.
Venezuelan authorities confirmed a young man was killed during protests and vowed to investigate the death, the first since a controversy over the Supreme Tribunal blew up.
Jairo Ortiz, a 19-year-old student of the Bicentenary University of Aragua, was shot and killed while protesting in Carrizal, Miranda.
Venezuelan authorities banned top opposition leader Henrique Capriles from running for office for 15 years.
“When the dictatorship squeals, it’s a sign we’re advancing,” he said in a speech surrounded by other leading opposition figures, many of whom themselves have been targeted. “The only one who is disqualified here is you, Nicolas Maduro.”
The Supreme Tribunal attacked by protestors
During the protests, 16 subway stations and 19 Caracas Metrobus routes were closed.
The Supreme Tribunal was attacked by violent protesters during the afternoon, burning furniture, breaking windows and damaging the front door.
Student shot during protests
Daniel Queliz, a 19-year-old student of the Arturo Michelena University, was shot and killed during a protest in Valencia by a Carabobo Police officer.
More than 50 individuals wounded were reported.
‘The government cannot continue to protect these groups’
Venezuela’s Catholic Church reiterated the call for calm with Archbishop Jorge Urosa Savino saying “the government cannot continue to protect these groups that are acting illegally”.
The opposition announced the “mother of all protests” march to take place on April 19 to “overflow” Caracas.
Venezuela’s defence minister declared the army’s “unconditional loyalty” to President Nicolas Maduro, who ordered troops onto the streets before a major protest by opponents trying to remove him.
President Maduro ordered the expansion of the Venezuelan National Militia to involve 500,000 loyal Venezuelans, stating that each would be armed with a rifle and demanded the prevention of another event similar to the 2002 Venezuelan coup d’etat attempt.
‘Mother of all marches’
The “mother of all marches,” as it was called by organisers, occurred.
The day began with demonstrators gathering around the country at about 10:30am, with Caracas having 26 different routes for the main march to head to the office of the Ombudsman to demonstrate.
Two Venezuelan students and one police officer died after being shot.
Later in the evening, a National Guard sergeant was killed and a colonel wounded when their squad was attacked with gunfire while trying to control disturbances in a city near Caracas, the prosecutor’s office later said.
He was the first person of authority killed in the year’s protests, with the day’s deaths raising the death toll of 2017 protests to at least eight people.
April 21, 22
Twelve people were killed in Caracas overnight following two days of mass street protests.
The office of the Venezuelan attorney general said that eleven of those deaths were caused by electrocution and gunshot wounds in El Valle del Espiritu Santo.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans participated in a silent march in memory of those killed.
For the first time, demonstrators were able to travel to western Caracas without being barricaded by authorities.
Venezuela said it will withdraw from the Organization of American States in reaction to pressure from the bloc over the government’s handling of the country’s political crisis.
Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the government would launch a two-year process to pull out of the Washington-based regional diplomatic group of which it has been a member of for more than 65 years.
‘That could’ve been me’
Juan Pablo Pernalete, a 20-year-old student, was killed by the impact of a tear gas canister in his chest during protests in Altamira.
Following the death of the student, the son of politician Tarek Saab uploaded a video on YouTube stating that he had protested that night and that, “That could’ve been me!”, and pleaded to his father saying:
“Dad, in this moment you have the power to end the injustice that has sunk this country. I ask you – as your son and in the name of Venezuela, to whom you serve – that you reflect on the situation and do what you have to do.”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raised wages and handed out hundreds of free homes as part of efforts to counter a strengthening protest movement seeking his removal.
The announcements came as government supporters and Maduro’s opponents prepared for rival marches to commemorate May Day.
President Maduro called for the formation of a constituent assembly to replace Venezuela’s current constitution.
Protesters, primarily students, marched in and around Caracas, with tear gas being used near the Central University of Venezuela.
Supporters of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez held a vigil outside his prison demanding to see him after rumours about his health rattled the protest-hit country.
Eight Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, collectively denounced Venezuela’s “excessive use of force” against civilian protesters after the death toll from anti-government unrest in the country rose to 36.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Caracas.
Opposition leaders called for women to march dressed in white, a traditional show of defiance, against what they brand a repressive government led by President Nicolas Maduro.
In contrast, the government announced it would be organising its own women’s march in the western part of the capital, a traditional pro-Socialist stronghold.
Venezuela’s opposition ruled out discussions with President Nicolas Maduro on his plan for an elected assembly to draw up a new constitution, vowing instead to continue protests for early elections.
Protesters in Venezuela lobbed bottles and bags of faeces at soldiers who fought back with tear gas to block the latest march in more than a month of nationwide protests against President Nicolas Maduro.
The ongoing political crisis in Venezuela is being made worse by an acute shortage of basic food items.
Venezuelans in cars and on motorcycles, bikes and horseback clogged roads, protesting against President Nicolas Maduro.
At least one person died as thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro staged sit-ins and roadblocks across the country in a seventh week of anti-government rallies.
The national sit-in occurs with thousands of Venezuelans blocking designated areas of trafficking for up to 12 hours.
Luis Alviarez, 18, was killed during protests in the western state of Tachira after being shot in the thorax.
That brought the death toll since the start of the protests to at least 39 people.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s chief judge and seven other members of the country’s Supreme Tribunal as punishment for seizing powers from the opposition-led congress earlier this year.
Those sanctioned had their assets frozen within US jurisdiction, and US citizens were barred from doing business with them.
’50th day of anti-government protests’
Government protesters marked 50 days of their demonstrations. At least 46 people have died in clashes since the protests began.
On the 50th day of consecutive protests, millions of Venezuelans protested in Caracas during the “We Are Millions” march, demanding an end to violent repression and immediate elections.
The March of Health occurerd in Caracas with demonstrators attempting to travel to the Ministry of Health headquarters to protest against the shortages of medicine and other essential medical supplies.
Police fired tear gas to drive them back in scenes familiar after weeks of turmoil.
Nicolas Maduro launches constitution overhaul
At an open-air rally before thousands of red-shirted supporters, Maduro signed a document formally establishing the terms for electing members of a “constituent assembly” that will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.
“Votes or bullets, what do the people want?” Maduro asked the crowd, presenting the proposed 540-member body as a way to defuse increasingly violent protests, which he says are part of a US-backed conspiracy to overthrow “21st-century socialism”.
Two Venezuelan opposition leaders were among more than a dozen people wounded by security forces dispersing protests in the capital Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles and his team were attacked by the National Guard,
Fifty-nine people have died in the often violent street melees, which Maduro calls an effort to overthrow his government.
Security forces in Venezuela used water cannon and tear gas to disperse tens of thousands of opposition protesters heading towards the foreign ministry, as the Organization of American States held another meeting on the crisis.
Nicolas Maduro pledged to hold a referendum on a new constitution he is proposing in response to two months of violent anti-government protests.
The move came after the plan to create a super-body known as a “constituent assembly” to rewrite the national charter was criticised not just by opponents, but also some within government, as anti-democratic.
Opposition politicians called for a march to protest against food shortages in the crisis-stricken country.
At least 63 people have been killed in street protests since April 1.
Students protest against the constitutional assembly
Students from various universities protested against the constitutional assembly with dozens injured following the response of the National Guard.
A march critising censorship in Venezuela
Movimiento Estudiantil students marched to CONATEL to deliver a document critising censorship in Venezuela.
The march was not impeded by authorities and they successfully delivered their statements.
Peru’s president warns of refugee crisis in Venezuela
The deadly unrest in Venezuela could lead to “a bloodbath” and create a major refugee crisis, Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski warned, as violence continued in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
A response against international media
Protests occurred in Altamira, with the National Guard firing tear gas at national and international media correspondents so they would not cover their response to protests.
Thousands march for peace
Thousands marched for peace during the Divina Pastora procession in Barquisimeto, Lara.
Orders to prosecute attorney Luisa Ortega
Bolivarian official Pedro Carreno called on the Supreme Tribunal to prosecute Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz, with magistrates ruling that Ortega was prohibited from leaving Venezuela.
Twitter accounts suspended
At least 180 Twitter accounts of the Venezuelan government were suspended.
Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega to face trial
Venezuela’s supreme court approved proceedings against the attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who is accused of allegedly committing “grave errors” in her role as the nation’s top law enforcement official.
The country’s highest court accepted a lawsuit request against Ortega by a Socialist Party MP Pedro Carreno on Tuesday.
Ortega, a strong critic of President Nicolas Maduro, has been called a “traitor” by the ruling Socialists since March when she opposed a bid by the Supreme Tribunal to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its powers.
Members of Venezuela’s opposition protested at the summit of the Organisation of American States in Mexico, saying that not enough members were ready to call for action against the Venezuelan government over the country’s historic economic crisis.
The regional diplomatic bloc was unable to agree on how to resolve the crisis in Venezuela, where anti-government protests have been ongoing for more than two months and clashes with security forces have killed at least 70 people.
A police helicopter has dropped grenades on Venezuela’s supreme court building and fired shots at the interior ministry in what President Nicolas Maduro called a “terror attack” against his government.
Information minister Ernesto Villegas said the stolen helicopter first fired 15 shots on the ministry in Caracas, the capital, as a reception was taking place on Tuesday.
In the afternoon, a video is released showing men with assault rifles flanking Oscar Perez, an actor and investigator of CICPC, Venezuela’s investigative agency, stating that “We are nationalists, patriots and institutionalists. This fight is not with the rest of the state forces, it is against the tyranny of this government.”
President Maduro stated that a military rebellion had occurred while opposition officials said that the actions were staged so Maduro could justify a crackdown on those who oppose his government and the constitutional assembly.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has put the military on alert.
“I have activated the entire armed forces to defend the peace,” Maduro said on Wednesday in remarks broadcast from the Miraflores presidential palace.
“Sooner or later, we are going to capture that helicopter and those that carried out this terrorist attack.”
Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal has slapped an asset freeze and travel ban on Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega, a top critic of President Nicolas Maduro, after she accused him of creating a “climate of terror”.