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

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Strong Hurricane Hits Mexico's Baja California Peninsula

Thousands of tourists and residents are using shelters to escape the storm, including some set up in the region's luxury hotels
More

Powerful Hurricane Threatens Mexico's Baja California

US forecasters have downgraded Odile to strong Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour
More

Hard-hitting Films Tackle Homelessness at Toronto Festival

'Time Out of Mind,' 'Shelter,' and 'Heaven Knows What' all focus on characters struggling with homelessness, addiction on the streets of New York
More

After Tax Reform Triumph, Chile's President Faces Rockier Road

'Honeymoon' may be over for Michelle Bachelet as protests rise and economy, security outlook worsen
More

Mexico: Texas Governor's Border Deployment Politically Motivated

Rick Perry says he is sending up to 1,000 troops to Mexican border to deter criminal activity caused by drug cartels
More

Video Authorities Allege Ties Between LA Fashion Industry, Cartels

Officials say the LA fashion industry has attracted drug money since the Mexican government tightened restrictions on cash transfers
More