The Boston Globe
November 02, 2007
CARACAS - Soldiers used tear gas, plastic bullets, and water cannons yesterday to scatter tens of thousands who massed to protest constitutional reforms that would permit President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela to run for reelection indefinitely.
Led by university students, protesters chanted, "Freedom! Freedom!" and warned that 69 amendments drafted by the Chávista-dominated National Assembly would violate civil liberties and derail democracy.
It was the biggest turnout against Chávez in months and appeared to revive Venezuela's languid opposition at a time when the president seems as strong as ever.
"This is a dictatorship masked as democracy," said Jorge Rivas, an 18-year-old student. "Chávez wants our country to be like Cuba, and we're not going to allow that to occur."
Authorities broke up the protest outside the electoral agency's office, reporting no arrests or serious injuries. But the local Globovision television network ran video of several students who suffered minor injuries and images of police beating an unarmed protester.
Students hurled rocks and bottles, and a few lifted up sections of metal barricades and thrust them against police holding riot shields. Students retreated later when police fired plastic bullets.