News / Americas

Two Dead in Venezuela Violence as Protests Drag On

A man walks past a barricade set by anti-government protesters at Altamira square in Caracas, March 6, 2014.
A man walks past a barricade set by anti-government protesters at Altamira square in Caracas, March 6, 2014.
Reuters
A Venezuelan soldier and a motorcyclist died in a confused melee sparked by the opposition's barricading of a Caracas street, officials said on Thursday, boosting the death toll from nearly a month of violence to 20.
 
Demonstrators have for weeks staged rallies and set up barricades to demand the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, leading to clashes with security forces and government supporters.
 
Motorcycle drivers clearing a barricade in the middle-class neighborhood of Los Ruices were attacked by residents from nearby buildings who threw rocks and later shot at them, National Guard Gen. Manuel Quevedo said.
 
The motorcyclist who was killed, Jose Cantillo, who was in his early 20s, was shot in the neck, Quevedo said.
 
“Make no mistake, the National Guard and the armed forces are going to continue patrolling the streets to restore order,” he said in an interview at the scene of the events.
 
A second motorcycle driver was wounded and is in critical condition, President Maduro said in a televised broadcast.
 
Troops arrived in some 20 armored vehicles and used tear gas to disperse several hundred demonstrators, Reuters witnesses said.
 
Residents continued throwing rocks from above, but angry passers-by threw them back and attempted to force their way into buildings in an apparent attempt to find the assailants.
 
The troops used riot shields to shelter other soldiers from the rain of stones as they knocked down barricades and cleared debris including a car that demonstrators had burned in the morning, the witnesses said.
 
Maduro on Wednesday called on pro-government organizations including groups known as 'colectivos,' which opposition leaders describe as paramilitary groups, to help keep order in the streets.
 
The demonstrations began as sporadic protests against chronic product shortages and inflation that reached 56 percent in 2013, but expanded into a nationwide movement after three people were killed after a Feb. 12 march, unleashing the country's worst unrest in a decade.
 
Since then the protests have been more focused on complaints of excessive use of force in breaking up protests and demands for the release of imprisoned activists including Leopoldo Lopez, who spearheaded the nationwide protest efforts.
 
Protests Continue
 
Though street protests helped briefly topple the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez in a botched 2002 coup, there seems little chance the current unrest could lead to a Ukraine-style overthrow.
 
Government supporters slam the protests as dangerous and damaging disruptions of public order that have prevented sick people from receiving emergency treatment and stopped citizens from carrying out day-to-day activities.
 
Maduro, a former bus driver who calls himself the 'son' of the late Chavez, has called for a meeting of presidents of the Unasur group of Latin American nations to address the unrest.
 
“Over time we are going to shut them down,” Maduro said in a televised broadcast on Thursday afternoon. “They'll be remembered as violent vandals who have killed good men and women of this country.”
 
Maduro on Wednesday cut ties with Panama on charges the country's president was conspiring with the United States to intervene in Venezuela's affairs. During a rally on Thursday he gave the Panamanian ambassador and three other diplomats in Venezuela 48 hours to leave the country.
 
The rally also included Hollywood actor Danny Glover, a long time supporter of Venezuela's revival of socialism who met with Maduro as part of Wednesday's first anniversary of Chavez's death.
 
“I'm very proud to be here with you as we commemorate and celebrate a true man of the people, Hugo Chavez; his memory lives with us,” Glover told a crowd of government supporters clad in signature red T-shirts.
 
A Venezuelan television network on Wednesday premiered U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone's documentary called “My Friend Hugo.”
 
The protests have been a mix of peaceful demonstrations by student leaders and violent exchanges between security forces and hooded protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails.
 
Barricades made of debris and burning trash have angered even government critics and have led to fights between demonstrators and drivers attempting to push their way through.
 
Protesters have increasingly defied opposition leaders' calls to rein in violence and focus on convincing skeptical Maduro supporters to change their views.
 
One prominent opposition deputy was widely pilloried via Twitter this week for calling on anti-government demonstrators to respect Wednesday's celebration of the anniversary of Chavez's death from cancer.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

US, Cuba Teams Discuss Telecommunications Issues

US delegation visited Cuba this week as the two nations continued efforts to restore diplomatic relations broken over 50 years ago
More

Egyptian Court Adjourns Trial of Al Jazeera Journalists to April 22

Two journalists are charged with aiding a terrorist organization, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt banned following 2013 army takeover
More

Rio Exhibition Dramatizes Olympian Bay Cleanup Task

Display highlights problem of trash in Guanabara Bay, where sailing, windsurfing events are to take place in next Summer Games
More

Chile Says Drought Permanent, Lays Out Water Plan

President Michelle Bachelet says government will invest in desalinization plants and reservoirs to ensure access to potable water
More

Poll: Venezuelan Leader's Popularity Inches Up to 25%

Rise comes after United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials
More

High Winds, Drought Feed Chilean Forest Fires

Blazes have ravaged swaths of China Muerta and Nalca Lolco reserves and Conguillio national park, revered for its ancient forests
More