Elderly Woman Dead as Venezuelan Protests Intensify

Posted April 13, 2017

Opposition leaders announced another round of protests in Venezuela's more than 300 municipalities for Thursday, saying scattered demonstrations would stretch security forces thin. The freedom of assembly is a universal human right which the Venezuelan authorities must respect.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and Organization of American States chief Luis Almagro called on Venezuela on Monday to restore full democracy and set a timeline for elections, increasing diplomatic pressure on Maduro.

An opposition supporter holds a placard depicting Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro that reads 'No more dictatorship.

"Nobody can disqualify the Venezuelan people", an emotional Capriles said from a stage Saturday as he called on protesters to march to the ombudsman's office downtown. The Interior Ministry denied claims that Ortiz was part of the protest and said the transit police officer who shot the student had been arrested, according to ABC News. Even a hospital was tear-gassed. However renewed protests were also called this past weekend after former opposition presidential candidate and current Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski was banned from holding office for fifteen years by the Comptroller General's office for "illicit administrative practices".

It was not immediately clear where the bullet came from, though opposition leaders quickly decried the death as another example of the Venezuelan government's excessive use of force in countering protests.

Mexico's position reflects deep concern about the humanitarian crisis caused by food and medicine shortages in Venezuela, as well as the Supreme Court's recent short-lived decision to take over the powers of the country's opposition-controlled Congress.

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Opposition leaders contend the government is steadily spiraling toward authoritarianism.

That blocks Capriles, who narrowly lost the 2013 presidential election to Maduro, from running against him next year.

The latest anti-government protest march is due to start in the Chacaíto area of Caracas.

"At 15 years from that swipe at the constitution and the hope of a people, today we continue fighting to defeat this continuing coup", Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami said on Twitter.

The opposition is demanding a date for gubernatorial elections, meant to be held previous year, and is seeking early presidential elections. But some protesters said on social media that its usage amid volleys of tear gas produced nausea and vomiting, while government supporters said it was similar to crowd-control flares used in Spain.