In Venezuela protests, both sides draw battle lines -- but call for peace

Protests continue in Venezuela

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Story highlights

  • Venezuelan opposition protesters push to maintain momentum
  • The country's attorney general says 13 people have died in clashes during protests
  • Supporters rally behind President Maduro, who says he's planning peace conference

As Venezuelan opposition leaders push for demonstrators to stay in the streets, "he who tires, loses" is their mantra.

Lilian Tintori de Lopez, the wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, held up a T-shirt showing the phrase before protesters Monday.

Beside her, opposition leader Henrique Capriles called for demonstrators to keep demanding change from the South American country's government and described President Nicolas Maduro as "an error in the history of the country."

Outrage at soaring crime and a tanking economy triggered protests earlier this month.

Tintori called for a new demonstration Wednesday, asking women to march silently in peaceful protest, wearing white and carrying white flowers for each of their children, "for the future of our children and grandchildren." On their arms, she told them to wear black bands, "because we are in mourning for all those who have fallen in recent days."

Rivals protesting in Venezuela's streets

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 Why Maduro wants media out of Venezuela

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Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said Monday that 13 people have died and at least 147 people have been injured in clashes since protests began.

Forty-five people detained during demonstrations remain behind bars; nine of them are government forces, she said.

Opposition leaders and government officials blame each other for the unrest, and both sides show no sign of backing down.

In a nationally televised government meeting, Maduro said he was convening a peace conference on Wednesday for mayors, governors and leading lawmakers to sign a deal renouncing violence.

As anti-government demonstrators barricaded streets and tried to maintain their momentum, supporters also rallied behind Maduro on Monday.

Pro-government motorcycle clubs were the latest core group to show public support for Maduro, who insists the opposition is trying to stage a U.S.-funded coup attempt.

Some opposition protesters have accused bands of pro-government motorcyclists of fueling violence during demonstrations.

Maduro called on the crowd Monday to help protect peace in the country and exercise "maximum self control."

"Do not fall for provocations and prepare yourselves," Maduro said. "We are facing a massive plan. ... We have to be prepared every day to defeat the continuous fascist coup."

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      Unrest in Venezuela

    • maduro amanpour us relations america christiane nicolas venezuela_00001816.jpg

      Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is unapologetic about his government's response to opposition protesters during weeks of unrest in the South American country.
    • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference in Caracas on February 21, 2014. The death toll from escalating anti-government protests in Venezuela jumped to eight on Friday, as President Nicolas Maduro's leftist administration threatened to cut off fuel to areas "under fascist siege."

      Venezuela's President severed diplomatic relations with Panama Wednesday, accusing the Central American nation of being a "lackey" for the United States.
    • Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro invited CNN's Karl Penhaul to ask a question in a nationally televised news conference Friday, February 21, 2014. Earlier Maduro called out CNN, Fox and other US-based media claiming that they are encouraging opposition forces against the government.

      There's an attempted coup in progress in Venezuela, orchestrated and directed by elites in the United States, believes Maduro.
    • Leopoldo Lopez (C), an ardent opponent of Venezuela's socialist government facing an arrest warrant after President Nicolas Maduro ordered his arrest on charges of homicide and inciting violence, is escorted by the national guard into a vehicle after he turned himself in, during a demonstration in Caracas, on February 18, 2014. Fugitive Venezuelan opposition leader Lopez, blamed by Maduro for violent clashes that left three people dead last week, appeared at an anti-government rally in eastern Caracas and quickly surrendered to the National Guard after delivering a brief speech. AFP PHOTO / CRISTIAN HERNANDEZCRISTIAN HERNANDEZ/AFP/Getty Images

      When Leopoldo Lopez turned himself in to authorities, he did it on his terms -- and not before delivering a passionate message to his supporters.
    • Anti-government students march under a huge flag during a protest in front of the Venezuelan Judiciary building in Caracas on February 15, 2014.

      David Frum: The question is being asked: Is Chavismo finally cracking in Venezuela?
    • WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14:  U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks to the press during a news conference on the terror attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi February 14, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The senator questioned why the Obama Administration did not seek enough help from the Libya government during the attack.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

      Sen. John McCain reacts to the arrest of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, saying Venezuelans are fed up with socialism.