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Venezuela protests have left more than 40 dead: UN


People line up at a bus stop in Caracas, on January 29, 2019. – The United States announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company Monday in a coordinated effort with the main opposition leader to cripple embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s power base. (Photo by LUIS ROBAYO / AFP)

More than 40 people were killed and record numbers were arrested during a week of protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the United Nations said Tuesday.

UN human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters that “just over 40 people (were) believed to have been killed in different manners.”

On Monday, local NGO Venezuelan Program for Education-Action had put the toll at 35.


Protests broke out last week after a group of soldiers rose up against Maduro to support parliament president Juan Guaido’s call to disavow the socialist leader.

Guaido proclaimed himself acting president on Wednesday during a mass street rally that brought out tens of thousands of people to protest against Maduro, whom they blame for an economic meltdown that has left millions of Venezuelans in poverty and forced millions out of the country.

Among those killed, according to Colville, were at least 26 people who died “after allegedly being shot by security forces or members of pro-government armed groups during the demonstrations.”

“At least five additional people were also allegedly killed by security forces during illegal house raids in poor neighbourhoods,” he said, pointing out that such raids usually take place a few hours after protests in the same neighbourhoods.

Another 11 had been killed by unknown people in connection with lootings, he said, adding that a member of the Bolivarian national guard had also reportedly been killed.

In addition, Colville said the UN rights office believed “at least 850 people were detained for protesting between January 21 and 26”.

Among those arrested were 77 children, he said, some as young as 12.

Most of those arrested were picked up on the biggest day of protests on January 23, when at least 696 people were detained throughout the country, according to the rights office.

“This is the highest number of detentions recorded in a single day for at least 20 years,” Colville said.

Since he was elected head of the National Assembly last month, Guaido has managed to rally a previously disunited opposition around his daring bid to oust Maduro.

The socialist leader has been in charge since 2013 but his reelection last May was branded a fraud by the European Union, United States, and Organization of American States.

Several opposition leaders had been forced into exile, jailed, or barred from standing in the election, leading the opposition to boycott the poll.

The country has been in recession since 2014 and is in the midst of a crippling economic crisis marked by hyperinflation and a dearth of basic necessities, as well as failing public services.

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Nicolas MaduroVenezuela
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