Dozens hurt, 1 dead in violent day of protests in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Dozens of people were injured and a 27-year-old man killed Wednesday during another day of violent clashes in Venezuela’s capital during demonstrations demanding elections.
National guardsmen launched tear gas and a group of armed pro-government militiamen harassed protesters as they tried to march to the Supreme Court. One masked militia member fired several shots into the air. The militia later dispersed after officers intervened.
At least 93 people were injured in Caracas and demonstrator Miguel Castillo was killed. Authorities also announced that Anderson Dugarte, 32, died from a gunshot wound he suffered Monday at a protest in Merida. The violence pushed the death toll to at least 38 in more than a month of street protests and political turmoil.
Castillo had studied communications at Santa Marta University and friends and opposition leaders vowed to march to the site of his death Thursday morning.
“Another Venezuelan that this government robbed of his future,” said Stalin Gonzalez, an opposition lawmaker.
Demonstrators contend President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government has become an authoritarian regime responsible for triple-digit inflation, widespread food and medical supply shortages and soaring crime. Maduro has dismissed the opposition movement as a violent, far-right effort intent on removing him from power.
Protesters were marching in downtown Caracas and chanting: “Who are we? Venezuela! What do we want? Freedom!” Militiamen approached, all dressed in dark colors with pieces of cloth covering their faces. About three carried guns.
The protesters fled, screaming in fear. Opposition leaders have blamed armed pro-government groups known as “colectivos” for a number of protest deaths.
One of the militiamen fired into the air, though no one was hit.
Along Caracas’ main highway, state security forces used tear gas and water to disperse demonstrators, who threw jars of fecal matter in their direction. Some of the protesters arrived with wooden shields that had images of the nation’s blue constitution book, which Maduro has vowed to rewrite.
More than 1,300 people have been detained in the unrest, not including 250 civilians who have been presented before military tribunals. Maduro is vowing to resolve the crisis by holding a special assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution, though opposition leaders have refused to participate.