Teen dies at protest as Venezuela political unrest persists

  • Teen dies at protest as Venezuela political unrest persists

Teen dies at protest as Venezuela political unrest persists

In heavy-handed repression, two young men were killed protesting against the increasingly embattled administration of Nicolas Maduro in a period of 24 hours, as the Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the Attorney General against the Presidents call to draft a new Constitution without subjecting it to a popular vote first.

Opposition leaders identified the boy as 17-year-old Neomar Lander, and his relatives said he had gone with family members to demonstrate peacefully. Hours later, the body of a national guardsman was found in a residential neighborhood in eastern Caracas.

A demonstrator takes cover behind a home made shield decorated with an image of Jesus during clashes with security forces in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

Some of the demonstrations have ended in violence, leading to at least 66 deaths and thousands of injuries, according to figures from the Prosecutor's office.

Opposition protesters have been on the streets near-daily for more than two months demanding elections, foreign humanitarian aid, freedom for hundreds of jailed activists, and autonomy for the opposition-controlled National Assembly. The disproportionate response to protests Wednesday caught many by surprise, as Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino promised to eradicate “atrocities” from crowd-control Tuesday night.

Although that decision was later revoked, protesters continued to take to the streets across the country against the president, who is now convening a constituent assembly to write a new constitution, further angering the protesters. Speaking to military academy students, he again blamed opposition leaders for the violence roiling Venezuela.

Only a few deaths during protests have resulted in arrests, and about half of those deaths have been attributed to police.

With the exception of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, the nation's highest institutions, almost all stacked with pro-government officials, have backed Maduro's call for a constitutional assembly to be elected in July, which he says can help resolve the crisis.

"I think with this (assembly) we are destroying President Chavez's legacy", Luisa Ortega, the prosecutor who broke with Maduro several weeks ago, said outside the Supreme Court.

Opposition members contend such an assembly can not be elected without first holding a referendum.

The opposition and a press rights group say security forces have run over, attacked and robbed protesters and journalists. The government, however, claimed that Lander died when a homemade mortar exploded in his hands during a confrontation with National Guard troops. We know that the only possible destiny is the one we conquer in the present.