Ninth person shot dead in Venezuela amid protests

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   April 21, 2017 at 11:07 AM
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April 21 (UPI) -- Carlos Ocariz, the mayor of Venezuela's Sucre municipality in Caracas, on Friday said a man died during an anti-government protest -- the ninth related death in two weeks.

Ocariz said Melvin Guitan was shot during a protest that Venezuela's Bolivarian National Guard was breaking up on Thursday in the Petare suburb, which is regarded as one of the largest slums in the world. Ocariz did not say who shot Guitan.

"With a lot of pain I report the death by bullet impact of Melvin Guaitan, a humble worker and neighbor of the Sucre district," Ocariz said in a statement early Friday. "Melvin was murdered at the entrance of the Fifth of July district during the protest. We demand you to investigate and punish the culprits!"

Most of the protests deaths are accused of being carried out by "colectivos," or "collectives" -- a term used to describe civilian pro-government groups, some which have taken up arms against the political opposition. Venezuelan security forces are accused in at least two of the protest killings. The first death during the protests occurred on April 6.

Canada's Embassy in Venezuela on Thursday said it was "concerned" about the armed civilian groups.

Canada is concerned about the reports of armed civilians and clashes during protests in Venezuela," the embassy said in a statement. "We ask for meaningful negotiations to restore the constitutional order and respect for democratic rights."

The most recent protests in Venezuela began on March 30 after Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice, or TSJ, said it would assume the National Assembly's duties -- a ruling it later reversed. The opposition said the TSJ's move was akin to a coup d'etat in favor of Maduro's regime.

Venezuelans also protested after the Maduro regime banned Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of Venezuela's Miranda state and a key opposition leader, from holding elective office for 15 years.

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