Venezuela experienced on Tuesday another day of protests against President Nicolas Maduro and registered another protest-linked fatality on the eve of the first anniversary of the death of former leader Hugo Chavez.
“One year from the departure of the Eternal Commander, I invite the entire people to pay him tribute in Peace and with Love” with a “civil military” parade, said Maduro on Twitter, where he covered his predecessor, who died last year of cancer after 14 years in power, with praise.
This was the sixth consecutive day off for Venezuelans, given that Maduro had proclaimed last Thursday and Friday non-work days and Monday and Tuesday of this week were Carnival holidays.
Thousands of Venezuelans went to the beach and other leisure sites, although thousands more opted to remain in the cities and join the various marches or man the barricades set up to block many streets.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Communications Minister Delcy Rodriguez on Tuesday confirmed that a man died when he crashed his car into a barricade set up by protesters in the western state of Tachira bordering on Colombia.
“Venezuelan citizen Luis Gutierrez Camargo died instantly when he collided with a barricade in Rubio, in the state of Tachira,” said the minister on Twitter.
Rodriguez asked rhetorically, “Perhaps the violent people who are setting up these barricades are not aware that they (have) taken the life of another person? This is protest?”
In a subsequent message, the minister went on to say, “ENOUGH of deadly barricades! ... They are even spreading calls to use children in these murderous methods! Will CNN have anything to say about it?”
This fatality brings to 19 the number of people who have died in incidents related to the protests that have been occurring since Feb. 12 around Venezuela. In addition, more than 250 people have been injured and hundreds arrested.
A political demonstration on Feb. 12 ended in violence, with two opposition demonstrators and one government supporter slain, sparking the ongoing protests.
The government blames the protesters for 16 of the deaths and admits that eight security agents, who have been arrested, were involved in the other three, while the opposition has denounced the use of force by the authorities.