Death toll rises to 39 since protests beganSunday, March 30, 2014
Two more deaths in separate incidents in Venezuela
CARACAS — The death toll from several weeks of protests that have paralyzed Venezuela rose to 39 yesterday after two more people died in separate incidents, Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez said.
A man was electrocuted to death as he was erecting a barricade and another one killed when a homemade mortar exploded in front of him, Rodríguez confirmed yesterday.
In San Cristóbal, the capital of Táchira, an individual identified as Franklin Romero Moncada, 44, died.
Moncada, along with other protestors, knocked down a billboard in order to re-erect a barricade on a street that had been cleared by police shortly beforehand.
“Romero Moncada was killed instantly. He was electrocuted when the billboard made contact with a high voltage cable,” said Rodríguez in a telephone interview broadcast on Venezuelan state TV.
Rodríguez said Moncada had arrived at the scene accompanied by Councillor Omar Bustos from the opposition party Popular Will, the same party that former San Cristóbal mayor Daniel Ceballos belongs to.
Ceballos was accused of inciting violence against Maduro’s government and was sentenced last week to 12 months in prison and dismissed from office by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the second death occurred in Maracaibo, where a 33-year-old man was killed after a homemade mortar he was handling suddenly exploded.
In addition, Rodríguez said that two other people where injured in the incident: another man aged 48, and a boy of 16. They are said to be “stable” in hospital.
The incident occurred yesterday morning when a special unit of the national Police force cleared the main avenue that runs through Pirineos.
The state of Táchira, southwest of Caracas and close to the border with Colombia, was the epicentre of the protests that began in February against Maduro.
Hundreds of pro- and anti-government protesters took to the streets of the capital Caracas once more yesterday.
Opposition supporters marched to rally against commodity shortages, crime and government censorship. “They arrest protesting students but leave criminals and thugs free. We are isolated and voiceless,” said retired engineer Jorge Elías.
Marta Pérez, 50, added: “We are tired of not having enough food to eat, and criminals killing our children.”
Supporters loyal to the ideology of “Chavismo” espoused by Maduro and his predecessor meanwhile marched to the presidential palace to rally against the environmental impact caused by the protests.
President Nicolás Maduro’s leftist government has faced a wave of near-daily street protests since February 4, with the public venting anger over soaring crime, hyper-inflation and shortages of essential goods.
Maduro, the elected socialist heir to late Hugo Chávez, has decried the demonstrations, branding them a “fascist” plot orchestrated by the United States to overthrow his government.
Herald with AP, AFP