Caracas, May 16, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Five more people have lost their lives in Venezuela, bringing the total death count to forty-eight as violent anti-government protests enter their seventh week.
Motorbike taxi driver Carlos Enrique Hernández, 30, died in the early hours last Friday morning in Cabudare, Lara, after his motorbike collided with debris left from an opposition roadblock.
“It is because of the barricades he died,” Gustavo Rivero, a colleague of Hernandez told Venezuelan press.
“There is no consciousness. I agree with the protests against the government, but not with the vandalism and blocking the streets in this way,” he continued.
Hernandez is the fourth person to have died in traffic accidents resulting from makeshift roadblocks since the protests began.
Meanwhile, a further two men lost their lives in the western state of Tachira this past Monday while allegedly participating in anti-government demonstrations.
The death of Luis José Alviarez Chacón (18) in Palmira was confirmed by the Public Prosecution and national Ombudsman William Tareck Saab, and an investigation into the causes of his death is currently underway.
Extra-official reports suggest that Alviarez died after being shot in the chest during an unofficial anti-government protest.
Elsewhere in Tachira, Diego Hernandez (33) also died after being shot by a member of the state’s regional police force. Officer Luis Oviedo of PoliTachira was detained this Tuesday morning and will be charged with Hernandez’s murder, confirmed the Public Prosecution.
Authorities are also investigating the death of Yeison Mora (17), who was killed this past Monday during a demonstration in Barinas.
According to the Public Prosecution, the victim was near to a demonstration when a “group of people arrived who fired several shots, wounding the victim in the cranium”.
Police officer Jorge Escandon for the regional Carabobo police force was also left fighting for his life after also being shot in the head.
State Governor Francisco Ameliach has alleged that the police officer came under sniper fire Monday while controlling a demonstration. Another officer was shot in the leg.
The day's violence continued into Tuesday when Central University of Venezuela student Diego Arrellano (31) was shot dead during a protest in San Antonio de Los Altos on the outskirts of Caracas. A state district attorney has been dispatched to investigate the killing.
Monday’s wave of national protests was dubbed the “great sit-in” by the political opposition and involved the blockade of over fifty main roads across the country. The nation-wide mobilisation came on the back of several acts of vandalism allegedly perpetrated by opposition supporters over the weekend, including an aggression against a state-owned Bicentenario bank in Zulia state and an arson attack on the Ruiz y Paez hospital in Bolivar that saw its storage facilities destroyed.
A four-story administrative building belonging to the state electric company in Carabobo was also set on fire Monday by armed demonstrators, who reportedly shot at firefighters attempting to extinguish the flames. Venezuela's electricity minister has confirmed that the incident is the eighth attack on the nation's electric facilities since May 1.
Opposition supporters have been taking to the streets since the beginning of April to demand that the left-leaning national government step down after a stand-off between the Supreme Court and the opposition-controlled National Assembly came to a head.
The unrest has seen protesters block roads, attack government supporters, set fire to public institutions, and clash with state security forces.