A Calgary woman is speaking out about violence in Venezuela after losing her niece, who was shot during a protest last week.
Baron and other members of Calgary's Venezuelan community are calling on the Canadian government to help with the situation in their home county. After nearly two weeks of mass protests, at least 12 people are dead and more than a hundred injured.
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Among them is Baron’s niece, Genesis Carmona, a 22-year-old local beauty queen. She had been protesting with her mother and sister. She was shot in the head and died the next day.
“We are deeply shocked and very sad about what is going on with our country and what happened to Genesis,” Baron said. "We'd like to be all there. Believe me, if we were there, we would be on the streets right now.”
Baron is trying to raise awareness about the unrest in Venezuela, hoping Genesis didn't die in vain and praying that somehow the violence will end.
"I would like her to be remembered as a brave girl that died for her country. That's the only way I want her to be remembered."
Protest held in Calgary
As tensions rise in their homeland, members of Calgary's Venezuelan community are speaking out.
Hundreds turned out for a protest this weekend and many more signed a national petition calling on the Canadian government to speak up.
“Step forward,” said Calgary organizer Josue Ramirez.
"It is not okay when a country starts violating human rights,” said Pamela Manjarres, who moved to Canada less than three years ago. “It is no longer a democracy when this happens, when the national force is used against civilians that are peacefully protesting. That’s when you can not call it a democracy anymore."
Opposition protesters erected barricades across major thoroughfares on Monday, bringing traffic to a halt in parts of the Venezuelan capital in a continuation of the unrest that has roiled the country for nearly two weeks.
President calls for peace conference
Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been staging countrywide protests since Feb. 12 that the government says have resulted in at least 12 deaths and more than 130 injuries.
The demonstrators blame Maduro's administration for the country's high crime rate and economic troubles. They say his socialist-inspired polices have led to shortages of basic goods and inflation above 50 per cent, among the world's highest, despite the country's vast oil reserves.
Maduro has called for a national peace conference this week to address the unrest. Opposition Gov. Henrique Capriles says he has not decided whether he will participate.