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Venezuela arrests 3 linked to slaying of opposition leader Luis Manuel Díaz

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Dec. 1, 2015 at 8:00 AM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Three men were arrested Monday in connection to the slaying of Luis Manuel Díaz, a Venezuelan opposition leader who was shot dead following a campaign rally.

William Méndez Quiaro, 28, José Enrique Abad, 25, and Ronald Ender Hernández, 22, were arrested for the "alleged commission of crimes under Venezuelan law," the Public Ministry of Venezuela said in a statement.

Díaz was killed Wednesday after a political event in the town of Altagracia de Orituco in Venezuela's Guarico state. Multiple opposition representatives were at the event in an attempt to increase support for the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for this coming Sunday.

Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, was also at the event.

The coalition is hoping to build on the discontent on display at last year's massive nationwide protests that called for improved security, an end to food shortages and more freedom of speech. About 43 people died in the protests, including both government supporters and opponents.

Venezuela is preparing for Sunday's parliamentary elections, when President Nicolás Maduro's ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, could see significant losses. The opposition coalition could win a majority in Venezuela's National Assembly.

U.S. Department of State spokesman John Kirby condemned Díaz's murder.

"This was the deadliest of several recent attacks and acts of intimidation aimed at opposition candidates," Kirby said in a statement. "We call on the government of Venezuela to protect all political candidates and we call on the National Electoral Council to ensure that this campaign is conducted in a manner to encourage full participation by the people of Venezuela. We further note that campaigns of fear, violence, and intimidation have no place in democracy."

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