Venezuelans march in memory of those killed in unrest

Cheryl Sanders
April 23, 2017

More than 20 people were taken to the hospital amid anti-government protests in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, the country's National Assembly deputy Jose Manuel Olivares said.

Within the first two weeks of April, six people were killed during anti-government protests.

Nine other people have been killed in violence associated with a wave of anti-Government demonstrations in the past three weeks, in which protesters have clashed with security forces in melees lasting well into the night that culminated in the "mother of all marches" on Wednesday.

"People starting looting the businesses and yelling that they were hungry and that they want the government out", said 25-year-old Daniela Alvarado who sells vegetables in the El Valle area.

Melvin Guitan was wounded in Petare community east of Caracas when he was struck by a bullet during a protest being broken up Thursday by National Guard members deploying tear gas.

Videos shot by El Valle residents showed people throwing bottles and other objects out their windows at the gunmen in the streets below, shouting "Murderers!"

The government accuses the opposition of hiring armed agitators to sow violence, while the opposition says it is the government hiring thugs and ordering the police and army to repress peaceful protests.

"This was a war", said Liliana Altuna, whose butcher shop was ransacked by looters armed with guns who grabbed everything in sight.

A white-clad "silent" march in Caracas on Saturday to commemorate those killed in the unrest, and a nationwide "sit-in" blocking Venezuela's main roads on Monday have been programmed.

Non-government rights group Provea said the woman died "in the context of the demonstrations".

As residents and workers cleaned up the destruction on Friday, groups of people, including children, scavenged for food amid the wreckage.

The two sides looked set to spend the day regrouping after massive protests Wednesday and Thursday erupted into unrest in the flashpoint western city of San Cristobal and several other cities.

A number of major Latin American governments, including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, called on Venezuela to take steps to increase democratic order and halt the violence that has been swirling around the protests.

The generous oil-financed welfare state created by late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, Mr Maduro's predecessor, has given way to a Soviet-style economy marked by consumer shortages, triple-digit inflation and snaking supermarket lines.

Maduro says the protests seeking to oust him are part of a United States-backed coup plot.

Those working in the hospital said that the attack started at around 9. p.m. Thursday and lasted for close to three hours.

Protests began three weeks ago over the Supreme Court's decision to strip the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers, a move that was later reversed but not before enraging the opposition and causing a storm of worldwide criticism.

Capriles responded on Twitter that Maduro, "like all dictators", is a compulsive liar, and called on Venezuelans to keep up protests.

Other reports by iNewsToday