Venezuela death toll hits 40 as boy dies, say prosecutors

Barsaba Taglieri
Mag 17, 2017

For more than six consecutive weeks, violent demonstrations have overtaken cities in Venezuela, as the country has descended into an economic crisis that anti-government protesters are pinning on socialist President Nicolás Maduro.

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

Over the past month, the protests promoted by conservative groups have resulted in more than 36 people killed, more than 700 injured and damage to public and private properties.

In Valencia, three policemen were injured, authorities said, with one mistakenly reported by the local Socialist Party governor as having been shot dead earlier in the day.

The opposition urged protesters across the country to come out in processions of vehicles yesterday. They have also demanded the release of jailed activists, foreign humanitarian aid to offset the economic crisis and autonomy for the opposition-controlled legislature.

Venezuela has been gripped by soaring inflation and severe shortages of basic food and medical supplies, as its economy slips into ruin.

The European Union called for "the establishment of an electoral calendar so that the people ...can express their will in a democratic way", the ministers said.

"We ask the world to look at what's happening right now in Venezuela", opposition leader Maria Corina Machado said after Monday's violence. In fact, after the Organization of American States criticized his response to the unrest late last month, his government initiated steps to withdraw from the Washington-based group - which, if Venezuela follows through, would mark the first time a country has left the OAS. Rather, in a statement released Monday, the global organization declared that "fundamental rights of the Venezuelan people must be respected, including the right to peacefully demonstrate".

As demonstrations take over Caracas nearly daily, normal life has continued, but suffused with tension and uncertainty.

On Monday, demonstrators assembled a giant rosary with balloons hanging from a Caracas highway overpass. What has the president said?

In the streets of Caracas, protesters have been facing a repressive force that has been using water cannons and tear gas canisters to disperse large crowds since April.

"We are against this fraudulent process", Capriles said on his radio broadcast. The opposition maintains state security and civilian-armed pro-government groups known as "colectivos" are responsible for the bloodshed.

Maduro blames the opposition for the violence, claiming its leaders are fomenting unrest to remove him from power.

That includes at least four people who died from wounds they sustained Monday in the states of Tachira, Barinas and Miranda - including 31-year-old Diego Arellano, whose death was announced by opposition leader Henrique Capriles. That brought the death toll since the start of the protests to at least 39 people.

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