"Chavez wants our country to be like Cuba, and we're not going to allow that to occur."
"This is a dictatorship masked as democracy"- Protestor
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Soldiers used tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannons to scatter tens of thousands who massed Thursday to protest constitutional reforms that would permit Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to run for re-election indefinitely.
Led by university students, protesters chanted "Freedom! Freedom!" and warned that 69 amendments drafted by the Chavista-dominated National Assembly would violate civil liberties and derail democracy.
It was the biggest turnout against Chavez in months, and appeared to revive Venezuela's languid opposition at a time when the president seems as strong as ever. Students promised more street demonstrations over the weekend, but no opposition-led protests were planned for Friday.
"This is a dictatorship masked as democracy," said Jorge Rivas, an 18- year-old student. "Chavez wants our country to be like Cuba, and we're not going to allow that to occur."
Authorities broke up the protest outside the headquarters of the country's electoral council, reporting that six police officers and one student were
injured. But students said dozens of protesters were hurt during the melee. The local Globovision television network broadcast footage of several police beating an unarmed protester with billy clubs.
Student leader Freddy Guevara said it was not immediately clear how many students were arrested, and he urged local human rights groups to help verify the number of detained protesters.
Freddy Guevara? Can T shirts be far behind?
These are essentially brave kids, children standing in objection to what is clearly a fascism, even a racist one, which coolly speaks the dialectic of an dreamlike egalitarian socialism, with the cynical knowledge that no one believes them, and they know those who disbelieve know they know it, and could care less.
Never has the value of the Second Amendment been more clear then when we contemplate a government like that of Chavez which makes such a law compulsory among free peoples.
Either the government fears the people, or the reverse. There is no other state of being available.