Venezuela News, Protests and Riots Update: Two More Dead As Congresswoman Appeals to US Officials and OAS for Help
Street clashes continue in Venezuela, with opposition protestors, mainly students, fighting with security forces as well as chavista supporters for control of various districts and cities. Anti-government protests have continued undeterred since February, disrupting life in Venezuela as well as the economy, but no end appears in sight with neither side willing to buckle or compromise.
A motorcyclist fired upon protestors in the provincial city of Valencia holding their ground at a barricade. Argenis Hernandez, 26, was hit in the abdomen and died later in hospital, according to Aljazeera. It is unclear whether the motorcyclist was just an armed hoodlum or part of the infamouscolectivo vigilantes who side with the Maduro government.
In another part of the country, 31-year-old bus driver Wilfredo Rey was shot in the head, bringing the death toll to 33. Hooded gunmen, who have been clashing with opposition protestors, caused the death in the city of San Cristobal. Aljazeera reports that the bus driver was not part of the protests.
Venezuela’s chavista government continues to remain in control of the country as protestors march on the streets in spite of deaths and arrests. In Caracas, opposition leaders spoke to a crowd; among the speakers was the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, Lilian Tintori. She read a letter from her husband.
“Maduro, I want to tell you, and those who are with you, if you don’t step aside, you’ll have millions of Venezuelans on the streets and beyond fighting for the political change we deserve,” the letter said.
While the fighting continues on the streets, both sides continue to plead with the international community for support. Another opposition leader, congresswoman Maria Corina Machado,appealed to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC but did not appeal as part of Venezuela’s delegation. According to the Wall Street Journal, Machado attempted to bring the Venezuela crisis to debate as part of Panama’s delegation.
The body voted to deny the media access to its deliberations and also did not allow Machado to address the body in a vote that pitted Venezuela’s regional allies against the other nations. Machado managed to briefly speak to delegates and asked them for help in Venezuela. Afterwards she accused the Venezuelan government with trying to silence the truth.
“They are afraid of the truth,” said Ms. Machado to a mass of reporters. “They don’t want the truth to come out about the massive repression taking place in Venezuela. They don’t want it to be known in the world and in our America.”
In response, the president of Venezuela’s congress called Machado a traitor and assassin and started to strip her of her parliamentary immunity, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, the government has been losing more than just order. President Maduro in a speech claimed that theprotests have cost the state about $10 billion, though he did not mention how that number came about, according to Reuters.