Three more die in Venezuela unrest
By Ben Tavener, Thursday, March 13, 2014
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Venezuela saw another day of deadly violence on Wednesday after anti-government protesters clashed with police in the capital, Caracas, and in other cities across the country.
Reports said three people died in Valencia, Carabobo state, as the country marked a month of bloody unrest - which began on February 12, when three people died.
In one of the bloodiest days of the month-long social unrest, student Jesús Enrique Acosta, army captain Ramso Bracho and a middle-aged man, Guillermo Sanchez, were killed as a result of the violent clashes, bringing the overall death toll in the country to 25.
Both members of the National Guard and protesters were also witnessed sustaining serious injuries.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles tweeted about the student's death: “Our feelings and solidarity in your deep pain to relatives and friends of student Jesús Enrique Acosta, murdered today in Valencia”.
Capriles then blamed Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro for Acosta's death.
“Another youngster murdered in Valencia; how many more dead and injured, Nicolás?'' he said. ''You in the government are the big ones responsible for the country's peace.”
Opposition protesters have accused armed pro-government militia over the deaths, which they say is part of a campaign against the students. However, the state governor blames the protesters, saying opposition snipers - which he labelled as “terrorist criminals” - had caused the death.
- 'Venezuelan Spring'
In Caracas, anti-government protesters, who are calling for President Maduro's resignation, clashed with military police after opposition marchers were blocked from leaving a central square, as a rival pro-government rally was also taking place.
Running battles between protesters and security forces ensued with students seen throwing stones and petrol bombs and police firing tear gas and water cannons. Eyewitnesses reported many injured on both sides.
The city had seen high levels of police and armed forces throughout the day.
Tensions ran high as many marked a month since the beginning of the protests on February 12, during which three people died of gunshot wounds after rallies were called, fuelling a nascent protest movement which began in the western city of San Cristóbal.
Since then, the country has seen nearly daily demonstrations and ensuing clashes with police and National Guard forces still loyal to the government.
Some 1,300 people have been arrested since the anti-government protests began over a month ago, officials say, and nearly a hundred remain in custody.
As night fell in Caracas with tear gas rolling over the city, an enraged President Maduro made a national address on Wednesday night vowing to “take drastic steps against these [groups] who are attacking and killing the people.”
Students and other anti-government protesters pledged to continue their struggle -- dubbed by some as the “Venezuelan Spring” -- against what they consider an oppressive government regime.
- UNASUR agrees Venezuela peace resolution
As violence continued in Venezuela, the foreign ministers of the twelve Union of South American Nations, UNASUR, met in Chile on Wednesday to discuss the currently economic and political crisis in Venezuela.
Chile's minister of external affairs, Heraldo Muñoz, said a resolution had been agreed after two hours of talks, and Venezuelan foreign minister, Elías Jaua, told reporters that he was 'satisfied' with the agreement.
Ecuadorian minister, Ricardo Patiño, praised the 'excellent' meeting and said on Twitter that UNASUR would “bring together a commission of foreign ministers to accompany and support broad dialogue to restore peaceful coexistence in Venezuela.”
Attempts by the Organization of American States (OAS), which includes and is headquartered in the United States, to coordinate a response to the Venezuelan crisis had been rejected.
Venezuela has repeatedly blamed the U.S. for stirring up trouble in his country; diplomats from both the U.S. and follow OAS member Panama have been expelled from Venezuela in recent weeks, with the country cutting diplomatic ties with Panama altogether, as well as freezing debt repayments.
President Maduro, who cancelled his trip to Chile for Tuesday's inauguration of new President Michelle Bachelet, said late on Tuesday in his new radio program, “While acts of vandalism [and] the coup d'état are ongoing, protests of the [political] right will not enter Caracas.”
Analysts say protesters appear to have little chance of toppling Maduro, but that worsening protests and a failure by the government to stabilize the country's free-falling economy could see the Maduro-led government unseated, as well as deepening chaos in the already volatile Andean nation.
Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency