CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Women banged on pans and some stripped off their white shirts Saturday as they protested Venezuela's socialist government in an event the opposition billed as a "women's march against repression." As they marched, local media carried a video showing people toppling a statue of the late President Hugo Chavez the day before in the western state of Zulia.
Thousands of women on Saturday took over some main streets in the wealthy eastern part of the city. Wearing the white shirts of the opponents of country's increasingly embattled government, the women sang the national anthem and chanted, "Who are we? Venezuela! What do we want? Freedom!"
Some sported makeshift gear to protect against tear gas and rubber bullets. Others marched topless.
As they have near-daily for five weeks, police in riot gear again took control of major roads in the capital city. Clashes between police and protesters have left some three dozen dead in the past month.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez on Friday denounced the protest movement, and said opposition "terrorists" were attempting a kind of nonconventional warfare.
The government was also planning a counter women's march on Saturday in the city's downtown.
Local news media on Friday carried a video circulating on Twitter of the Chavez statue being pulled down. The media reported that students destroyed the statue as they vented their anger with the food shortages, inflation and spiraling crime that have come to define life here.
The protest movement has drawn masses of people into the street nearly every day since March, and shows no sign of slowing. On Saturday, some of the women marchers approached soldiers in riot gear to offer them daisies and invite them to join the cause.
"What will you tell your kids later on?" one woman asked.
Hannah Dreier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hannahdreier . Her work can be found at https://www.ap.org/explore/venezuela-undone .