Friday, 28 July, 2017

More killed, hundreds injured in Venezuela protests

More killed, hundreds injured in Venezuela protests More killed, hundreds injured in Venezuela protests
Freda Brock | 19 May, 2017, 20:48

Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States and one of President Nicolas Maduro's harshest worldwide critics, called for the government to be held to account over the deaths. "And I'll be back every day there's a protest, for as long as is necessary", said human resources worker Anelin Rojas, 30, sitting cross-legged with a novel and earphones in the middle of Caracas' main highway.

Luis Alviarez, 18, was hit in the chest during clashes with police in the western state of Tachira.

In front of the protesters stood a line of officers equipped with bulletproof vests, visored helmets and plastic shields to protect from the rocks and fecal "puputovs" that some demonstrators threw their way, the Associated Press reported.

More than three dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in protests that erupted after the government-stacked Supreme Court issued a ruling March 29 nullifying the opposition-controlled National Assembly, a decision it later reversed amid a storm of global criticism and outrage among Venezuelans. Authorities were also investigating a shooting in Carabobo that left two officers injured, one critically.

A 17-year-old boy and two men died in Venezuela after being shot during anti-government protests, prosecutors said Tuesday, bringing to 42 the number of people killed in six weeks of unrest.

Protesters are demanding early elections and an end to the country's deep economic crisis. Polls show the majority of Venezuelans want Maduro gone as violent crime soars and the country falls into economic ruin.

The European Union has also called for elections in the country, in what is reported to be the union's most outspoken statement on the issue so far.

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On Monday, the Organization of American States voted to hold a rare foreign ministers' meeting later this month to discuss the crisis. Maduro contends the OAS is meddling in Venezuela's domestic affairs, infringing on its sovereignty and trying to remove him from power.

It added that since the start of April, nearly 40 people have died and around 800 have been injured in fighting between security forces and protesters. Demonstrators assembled a giant rosary with balloons hanging from a Caracas highway overpass. Others simply sat and held signs declaring their resistance.

Right-wing leaders say that the intention of the constitutional process called by Maduro is to delay regional and municipal elections slated for this year.

Venezuela announced in late April that it would be leaving the Washington-based OAS, which seeks to defend democracy throughout the hemisphere, and its representative was not present at Monday's meeting scheduling the upcoming event.

Protesters have vowed to remain on the streets even as the death toll mounts.

The opposition blames the bloodshed on state security forces using excessive force and on groups of armed, pro-government civilians known as "colectivos".

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