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Fifth Venezuelan Dies in Protests

  • VOA News

Protester in gas mask made from plastic water bottles helps block highway to airport, Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 18, 2014.
A fifth Venezuelan protester has died from wounds suffered during anti-government demonstrations in the past week.

The 22-year-old student was shot in the head Tuesday in the central city of Valencia, during a protest against the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Meanwhile Wednesday, supporters of opposition leader Leopold Lopez gathered outside a Caracas courthouse before a hearing on charges he fomented a week of violent protest to overthrow Maduro.

Lopez spent the night in jail after turning himself in Thursday. An arrest warrant earlier said Lopez could face charges that include homicide.

National Guard troops in armored vehicles stood watch over demonstrators calling for Lopez' release.

On Monday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three U.S. Embassy officials, after Washington came to Lopez' defense.

The State Department on Tuesday said allegations the United States is helping to organize Venezuelan protests are "baseless and false," adding that Venezuela is trying "to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States."

"These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces," it said, adding that Venezuela’s political future is for the Venezuelan people to decide and there is no room for violence by either side.