Venezuelans take battle to streets again as death toll jumps to 37
Students held demonstrations across Caracas yesterday as a two-month-old protest movement that shows no signs of letting up claimed more lives.
At the Central University of Venezuela, soldiers bathed hundreds of student protesters in tear gas. Many of the protesters stayed put, and medics in gas masks attended to others with bloodied faces.
Students from another university marched peacefully to deliver a petition to the office of the country's Catholic bishops, asking the pope to speak out against the violence and the government's steps toward authoritarianism.
Gunfire erupted at a student gathering in El Tigre, a city southeast of Caracas, leaving Juan Lopez (33) dead and three others injured, according to the chief prosecutor's office. According to preliminary reports, an assailant fired at Mr Lopez toward the end of the meeting and then fled on a motorcycle. Mr Lopez was the president of a university federation.
The student leader's death brought to at least 37 the number killed in Venezuela's ongoing political turmoil.
Earlier yesterday, authorities announced a 38-year-old police officer in the central state of Carabobo had died of his injuries after being shot during a Wednesday protest that had hundreds of thousands of people on the street nationwide. A 17-year-old was also killed during the day's protests.
Hundreds more have been wounded - no small matter in a country with crippling medical shortages - and more than 1,000 have been arrested.
Protesters are demanding immediate presidential elections. President Nicolas Maduro accuses the opposition of attempting a coup, and has responded with an initiative to rewrite the constitution.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International warned yesterday of growing violence across Brazil, particularly killings by police as law enforcement and criminals battle over turf in Rio de Janeiro.
In a report to the United Nations, the human rights group highlighted the recent spike in killings by Rio police - 182 in the first two months of the year, or 78pc more than a year earlier. "Brazil has not taken enough steps to tackle the shocking levels of human rights violations across the country, including soaring police homicide rates," Jurema Werneck, Amnesty's director in Brazil, said.