Sunday, November 27, 2022

Student killed in Venezuela protests: prosecutors

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A graffiti depicting late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on a wall is seen during a rally of supporters to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the coup that briefly removed him from power, in Caracas on April 11, 2017. The last week has been marked by street protests called by opponents who want to remove Maduro from office over an economic crisis marked by severe shortages and the world’s highest rate of inflation. / AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO PARRA

A 19-year-old student died Tuesday after he was shot during clashes between Venezuelan police and demonstrators, prosecutors said, the second death in a week at violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

Daniel Queliz was shot in the neck as police broke up protesters who want to remove Maduro from office over a spiraling economic and political crisis.

He died early Tuesday in the northern city of Valencia, the state prosecution service said.

It said 40 people will be charged for “acts of violence” in Monday’s unrest.

Maduro is fighting efforts to oust him as Venezuela, once a booming oil exporter, flounders through severe shortages and the world’s highest rate of inflation.

Monday saw the fifth day of clashes this month in the South American country, home to the world’s largest oil reserves.

Riot police in Caracas and other cities fired tear gas and water cannon at stone-throwing demonstrators, whose leaders vowed to keep up pressure on Maduro.

No major protests were announced for Wednesday, but opposition leaders called for huge rallies on April 19.

Another 19-year-old protester, Jairo Ortiz, died on Thursday last week after he was shot in the chest when police broke up a demonstration in Caracas. A policeman has been charged over that killing.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, condemned the deaths on Tuesday.

“We can’t accept a regime that is willing to sacrifice the lives of Venezuelans in order to perpetuate itself in power,” he said in a video posted on his Twitter account.

The regional group has been fiercely critical of what Almagro has called Maduro’s “dictatorship.”

Maduro supporters staged their own rally on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of a short-lived coup against Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, the late leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez, in 2002.

“Today the revolution is at risk again,” Maduro supporter Franklin Barrios, 50, said. “But the Venezuelan people will always be on their feet to defend the legacy of Comandante Chavez.”

The opposition, which also accuses Maduro of installing a dictatorship, is demanding the authorities set a date for postponed regional elections.

They also want a referendum on removing Maduro from power.

“All this violence is erupting because they won’t let the people have their say via elections,” said the speaker of the opposition-majority legislature, Julio Borges, as he hand-delivered a petition to the National Guard headquarters calling on police to “stop the repression.”

The opposition is also furious over moves to limit the powers of the legislature and ban senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles from politics.

Also on Tuesday, Venezuelan television interrupted the live broadcast of a military parade when Maduro, who was taking part, was hit by objects thrown from a crowd. Reports on social media said the projectiles included eggs and stones.

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