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Students offer Venezuelan police roses, then turn to rocks

November 14, 2019 GMT
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A group of student protesters attack a cordon of Bolivarian policeman blocking their path, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
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A group of student protesters attack a cordon of Bolivarian policeman blocking their path, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A minor clash broken out in Venezuela’s capital Thursday between university students and national police wearing riot gear following a speech by opposition leader Juan Guaidó at the Central University of Venezuela campus.

Guaidó is rallying support for nationwide protests planned for Saturday against the government of President Nicolás Maduro, trying to re-energize a campaign launched in January to overthrow the socialist government.

As Guaidó spoke, national police carrying shields formed a blockade at one of the campus’ entrances. The students approached them with white flowers, urging them to abandon Maduro.

The protest by dozens of students chanted “Freedom” and “Guards, listen and join the fight.”

The students then tried to charge the police line and threw rocks, drawing pepper spray and tear gas in return. The confrontation ended with no injuries.

Maduro’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza also announced Thursday that the government had retaken control of Venezuela’s embassy in Brazil’s capital following a brief disturbance.

A group of people backing Guaidó’s claim to be Venezuela’s legitimate president occupied the nation’s embassy in Brasilia for about 10 hours Wednesday. Sympathizers on both sides briefly engaged in pushing and shoving in front of the embassy.

Maduro’s government says the group invaded the embassy, while the Venezuelan representative to Brazil named by Guaidó said embassy staff opened the gate and let them inside.

The government of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is among more than 50 nations that recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader. However, Bolsonaro said in a statement Wednesday that he had no knowledge of the group’s plans to occupy the embassy.

Arreaza in a statement thanked the Brazilian “social movement” for its help resolving the situation. He said the group had peacefully left the building.