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7 Dead as Venezuela Violence Escalates

Puebla, Mexico, June 29, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Seven people have died across Venezuela over the past 48 hours, as violent anti-government protests continue nationwide.

The latest deaths include Isael Macadan Aquino, who was shot while participating in a protest in Anzoategui. Details of the shooting remain unclear, though local media has reported the protest may have devolved into looting, and authorities have stated Aquino is believed to have been shot during an "irregular situation" inside a commercial property. Two men have been arrested in connection to the shooting, though authorities are yet to suggest a motive.

Meanwhile in Venezuela’s second largest city of Maracaibo, protester Luigin Paz (20) died Wednesday at an opposition barricade when, according to the Public Prosecution (MP), he was "run over by a tanker truck". Further details have yet to be made public. 

In a separate incident in Maracaibo that same day, an unnamed motorcyclist was also fatally run over by a truck at an opposition barricade. 

The death occured when the truck came under attack by opposition protesters, according to local press reports.

"We came across the barricade .. and those who had blocked the way began throwing stones at us to loot the truck and when we went in reverse, we hit the motorcycle," said Jose Bravo, a passenger in the truck.
 
“[The motorcyclist] lay injured on the road and then they threw Molotov cocktails at us and set the truck on fire. The boy burned to death and my colleague and I were rescued," Bravo told reporters.
 
According to Emergency Services Director Jorge Galindo, Bravo suffered burns on 95 percent of his body and is currently hospitalized undergoing treatment. 
 
A fourth death was also publicly announced in Caracas late Tuesday, when protester Jhonatan Jose Zavatti Serrano died of gunshot wounds sustained the day before. According to the MP, Zavatti was walking in Petare Monday evening when he came across a protest and was shot in the head. A district attorney has been dispatched to investigate. 
 
A further death has been confirmed in the north-central state of Aragua. Alfredo Figuera (18) was walking down a street in Maracay Monday afternoon when he passed a demonstration and was hit in the head by a bullet allegedly fired by two suspects on a motorcycle, the MP has reported. The youth died in the hospital on Thursday. Maracay has been the scene of heavy anti-government rioting in recent days, which on Monday alone saw the looting of 68 businesses as well as attacks on public institutions and left-wing political party offices. 

Two more deaths have also been reported in Venezuelan media, but haven’t been confirmed by authorities. These include Roberto Duran, who was allegedly killed during violence at a protest in Lara state, and Victor Betancourt in Sucre. The circumstances of Betancourt’s death remain fiercely disputed, with opposition supporters claiming he was killed during a protest, while at least one local journalist has suggested he may have been involved in a traffic incident while returning from buying bread.

The latest deaths bring the overall death toll in 13 weeks of violent anti-government protests to at least 92, including 13 dead at the hands of authorities and 24 attributable to opposition political violence. 

More unrest has also been reported in Caracas, with the opposition-controlled National Assembly (AN) allegedly coming under attack late Tuesday. Opposition figures have accused government supporters of shooting fireworks at the assembly building, and there were reports of improvised explosives being used outside. Amid the chaos,  a video went viral on social media of a military officer arguing with AN head and opposition leader Julio Borges. The argument ended with the National Guard’s Colonel Vladimir Lugo shoving an enraged Borges out of the room.

The latest unrest came in the wake of a high profile terrorist attack on Venezuela’s Supreme Court and the offices of the Ministry of Justice. Carried out by a rogue police officer, the assailant used a stolen helicopter to drop grenades and fire at government buildings. The helicopter was found abandoned in an isolated region of Vargas state, though the pilot remains at large.

Published on Jun 29th 2017 at 3.38pm