Venezuelan students protest new bid to limit demonstrations

A group of Venezuelan chained students stand in front of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) building during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, on April 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A group of Venezuelan chained students stand in front of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) building during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, on April 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

CARACAS (AFP) - About 100 Venezuelan students chained themselves on Monday to the front gate of a UN agency's Caracas office, calling for an end to a new high court ruling requiring government approval for protests.

Shouting defiantly "so where is the damn law that bars us from demonstrating?" and waving signs that said "we are fighting for everyone's future", the students rallied in the city's Chacao subdivision, as nearly three months of protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government roll on.

Forty-one people have been killed and more than 700 injured in anti-government unrest as angry students and others denounce rampant crime, inflation, widespread shortages of basic goods and other economic woes.

The demonstrations have died down recently but continue sporadically in pockets of eastern Caracas, which tends to be well-off and anti-Maduro.

Mr Maduro was narrowly elected to succeed longtime leader Hugo Chavez last year after the elected socialist and populist firebrand died of cancer.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling requiring demonstrations be approved ahead of time by authorities or risk being dispersed, in order "to guarantee the right to free movement". Opponents say the ruling goes against democratic principles.

Venezuela has Latin America's highest inflation rate at 57 per cent. Most economic analysts blame the country's problems on a decade of rigid currency and price controls, as well rising dependence on imports and debt costs - a lacklustre record for a country that controls the world's largest proven oil reserves.