Caracas city worker killed amidst protests in Venezuela
Incident marks the 27th death since Caracas anti-government protests began in Feb.
A municipal worker was fatally shot while removing a street barricade in a middle-class Caracas neighbourhood, Venezuela's federal prosecutor's office said Wednesday, raising to 27 the official death toll from more than a month's worth of protests.
According to preliminary information, Francisco Alcides Madrid Rosendo, 32, was shot multiple times around 10 p.m. Tuesday while he and others were taking down a barricade in the Montalban neighbourhood in the city's western section, according to a statement from the federal prosecutor's office.
Pro-government Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodriguez through his Twitter account blamed unnamed "terrorists" for the killing, but provided no other details.
Caracas and other Venezuelan cities have been roiled by more than a month of anti-government demonstrations. Student-led protests that began in early February have drawn support from middle-class people frustrated by inflation that reached an annualized rate of 57 percent last month, soaring violent crime and shortages of basic items such as cooking oil and toilet paper.
Rosendo's killing takes the government's tally of dead in protests since Feb. 12 to 27. About 365 more people have been wounded in the demonstrations.
The prosecutor's office did not immediately comment on another death reported Wednesday in the western state of Tachira, where the circumstances were unclear.
Raul Casanova, the rector of the National Experimental University of Tachira told The Associated Press Wednesday that 18-year-old Anthony Rojas was fatally shot Tuesday night in Tariba, on outskirts of San Cristobal. Casanova said Rojas, a mechanical engineering student at the university, had participated in past opposition protests in San Cristobal, but was not doing so when he was shot.
Casanova said one of Rojas' family members told him that the young man was shot when he ran into an armed confrontation while going to a liquor store.
But Jorge Mora, the opposition president of the Tariba council, told the AP that Rojas was followed by armed government supporters and when he tried to hide in a store "they came by shooting." Another woman was wounded in the attack, Mora said.
Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado is expected to speak Friday at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington about the situation in Venezuela. Because the Venezuelan government controls the country's seat, Panama has offered Machado its seat to make her presentation to the regional body.
The Venezuelan National Assembly voted Tuesday to begin a process that could strip Machado of her immunity inside the South American country, accusing her of civil disobedience and trying to destabilize the government.
Machado told a reporter from The Associated Press who was on the same flight to Miami on Wednesday that she was "very worried" about the effort to bring criminal charges against her.
"It's fundamental that the world understand what's happening in our country," she said of her upcoming appearance before the OAS.
The body earlier this month approved a declaration supporting President Nicolas Maduro's efforts to start a dialogue with the political opposition. Panama, the United States and Canada voted against it.
Also Wednesday, petroleum workers representative Marla Munoz said on state television that the offices of the oil and mining ministry and state-owned oil company were simultaneously attacked earlier that morning with Molotov cocktails in the state of Barinas, southwest of Caracas. She said the attack was apparently aimed at scaring oil workers into withdrawing their support of the government.