Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Casualties mount to 42 in anti-government protests in Venezuela


People gather on a highway for a national sit-in against President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday. "And I'll be back every day there's a protest, for as long as is necessary", said Anelin Rojas, a 30-year-old human resources worker, sitting cross-legged with a novel and earphones in the middle of Caracas' main highway. Diego Hernandez, 33, and Luis Alviarez, 18, were killed in Tachira, while Yeison Mora Castillo, 17, died near a protest farther east in the state of Barinas on Monday. Several people were reported injured and witness videos showed demonstrators setting an armored vehicle on fire.

At least 38 people have been killed and hundreds injured in protests that erupted after the Supreme Court issued a ruling on March 29 nullifying the opposition-controlled National Assembly - a decision the court later reversed amid a storm of worldwide criticism and outrage among Venezuelans.

In the central state of Carabobo, authorities said three police officers had been injured, including one left in a critical condition. The opposition says the rewriting of Venezuela's charter is an attempt to postpone early elections with the aim of keeping Maduro in office.

"The release of jailed political opponents and the respect of the constitutional rights of all political actors to vote and to participate in elections are also crucial steps to building trust and helping the country to regain political stability", the European Union added.

On Monday, the Organization of American States voted to hold a rare foreign ministers' meeting later this month to discuss the crisis.

An especially grisly 24 hours of turmoil coming after almost two months of political unrest had nervous residents staying indoors in restive cities like San Cristobal near the border with Colombia.

Flynn hasn't responded to Senate panel's subpoena, chairman says
That resolution would then be put to a vote by the full senate. "You can not have the political process put someone in jeopardy". Burr told reporters Thursday that Flynn's lawyer informed the panel he will not abide by a subpoena for private documents.

The pressure on the streets increased even more when Maduro on May 1 convened a national constitutional assembly to rewrite the Constitution, calling this the "only" way to achieve peace but a move its detractors say constitutes a coup d'etat and a way for the president to perpetuate himself in power.

Critics of the president argue Maduro is increasingly dictatorial and plans to staff the assembly with supporters and avoid elections he would likely lose during a crushing recession in the oil-producing country.

"We are against this fraudulent process", Capriles said on his radio broadcast.

Foro Penal, a Venezuelan non-profit group whose lawyers are representing many of those detained, said there were 63 arrests Monday, a number that was likely to increase. Those killed are largely young men in their 20s and 30s, protesters or those who happened to be in nearby areas during clashes. In four of those cases, state or national police officers have been charged. The opposition maintains state security and civilian-armed pro-government groups known as "colectivos" are responsible for the bloodshed.

Maduro blames the opposition for the violence, claiming its leaders are fomenting unrest to remove him from power.

Few arrests have been made and the death toll is fast approaching the violence seen during protests in 2014.

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