Venezuela death toll rises
as unrest enters fourth week
bringing the total number of deaths to 12 this month, as anti-government protests
entered a fourth week with mass "sit-ins" to press for early elections.
Merida died from a gunshot in the neck at a rally in favor of President Nicolas
Maduro's government, the state ombudsman and prosecutor's office said.
agricultural state of Barinas, the state prosecutor's office added without specifying
motivated shootings and clashes between security forces armed with rubber
bullets and tear gas and protesters wielding rocks and Molotov cocktails.
connivance, while the opposition says he is a dictator repressing peaceful protest.
and autonomy for the opposition-led congress. But protests are also fueled by
the crippling economic crisis in the oil-rich nation of 30 million people.
a 66-year-old homemaker, who said police used rubber bullets against protesters
blocking a Caracas avenue with trash and bathtubs in the early morning.
signs denouncing shortages, inflation and violent crime as they chanted: "This
government has fallen!"
hundreds of people sat, carrying bags of supplies, playing card games, and
shielding themselves from the sun with hats and umbrellas.
states, some played the board-game Ludo, while others played soccer or enjoyed
some people sat down to play Scrabble and others cooked soup over small fires
in the streets.
mid-afternoon, when scattered skirmishes broke out and the shooting incidents
at night bandits and killers," Socialist Party official Diosdado Cabello said of the
opposition. "Let me tell them straight ... Nicolas (Maduro) is not going."
months of mayhem sparked by protests against Maduro, the 54-year-old successor
to late leader Hugo Chavez.
powers of the opposition-controlled congress. The court quickly reversed course,
but its widely condemned move still galvanized the opposition.
of two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles,
who would be an opposition favorite to replace Maduro,
gave further impetus to the demonstrations.
because the day will come that we are all coming to the
street until this government goes," said Gladys Avariano,
a 62-year-old lawyer, under an umbrella at the Caracas
over the protests, with 636 still detained as of Monday, according to local rights
group Penal Forum.
has called for local state elections - delayed from last year - to be held soon.
sign the government will allow the next presidential election, slated for late 2018, to
be brought forward as the opposition demands.
ruling Socialist Party would fare badly in any free and fair vote at the moment.
as a silent protest held on Saturday and Monday's "sit-ins".
government areas, most poor Venezuelans are more preoccupied with putting food
on the table.
Otero in Caracas, and Anggy Polanco and Carlos Eduardo Ramirez in San Cristobal;
Writing by Girish Gupta and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by James Dalgleish and