Venezuela arrests suspect in Táchira protest killing

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  April 20, 2017 at 2:08 PM
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April 20 (UPI) -- Venezuela's Public Ministry on Thursday said it charged 31-year-old Ivan Alexis Pernia Dávila with murder for the death of a 23-year-old woman who was shot amid anti-government protests in the Táchira state.

Pernia Dávila, who authorities arrested early Thursday, is accused of fatally shooting Paola Andreína Ramírez Gómez on Wednesday in the city of San Cristóbal during a Venezuelan opposition protest against President Nicolas Maduro.

"Following a search warrant requested by the prosecutors of the case ... Pernía Dávila was apprehended [at] dawn on Thursday by officials in an apartment located in the San Carlos neighborhood," the Public Ministry said in a statement.

Ramírez Gómez is one of at least three who died in the South American country during the opposition's "mother of all protests" Wednesday.

The Public Ministry said three people were killed, 62 people were injured and 312 were arrested on Wednesday. Protests against Maduro's regime intensified on March 30 after the Supreme Tribunal of Justice said it would assume the opposition-controlled National Assembly's duties -- a ruling it later reversed.

Maduro's regime has been heavily criticized by the opposition and several governments, which accused security forces of using excessive force against peaceful protesters.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said the U.S. government is "concerned" about the situation in Venezuela, adding that it is working with other countries, particularly through the Organization of American States, to communicate those concerns to the Venezuelan government.

"We are concerned that the government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people," Tillerson said.

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