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A woman is seen during a demonstration against the Venezuelan government in Caracas, Venezuela, Apr. 24, 2017. EFE/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ
A woman is seen during a demonstration against the Venezuelan government in Caracas, Venezuela, Apr. 24, 2017. EFE/MIGUEL GUTIERREZ

Death toll rises in worsening Venezuela unrest

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The Venezuelan Public Ministry on Monday reported that two people died in protests in the western states of Merida and Barinas, one of them being a Merida government official.

The Public Ministry said in a statement that Merida government official Jesus Sulbaran, 42, and Renzo Rodriguez Roda, 54, died in separate incidents in which seven other people were reportedly wounded.

Merida Gov. Alexis Ramirez said that Sulbaran and the injured people "are workers" in his office "who were massacred there at the sit-in the right staged where they are taking away the right to the free movement of the people of Merida."

 The latest deaths come amid a month of protests that have sparked politically-motivated shootings and clashes between security forces armed with rubber bullets and tear gas and protesters wielding rocks and Molotov cocktails.

Eleven people have also died during night-time looting.

The ruling Socialist Party accuses foes of seeking a violent coup with U.S. connivance, while the opposition says he is a dictator repressing peaceful protest, as reported in Reuters.

The opposition's main demands are for elections, the release of jailed activists and autonomy for the opposition-led congress. But protests are also fueled by the crippling economic crisis in the oil-rich nation of 30 million people.

Demonstrators wore the yellow, blue and red colors of Venezuela's flag and held signs denouncing shortages, inflation and violent crime as they chanted: "This government has fallen!"

In the capital, they streamed from several points onto a major highway, where hundreds of people sat, carrying bags of supplies, playing card games, and shielding themselves from the sun with hats and umbrellas.

 

 

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