Photo: Protests in Venezuela
Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres confirmed the deaths of two opposition activists protesting against President Nicolas Maduro on barricades in the cities of San Cristobal and Maracaibo, raising to 39 the number of victims in anti-government demonstrations that began last Feb. 12.
The first fatality, a 44-year-old company manager in San Cristobal identified as Franklin Romero, was electrocuted when, together with another two people who were injured, he tried to mount, on top of a barricade, a billboard that made contact with an electric wire, the minister said.
The other victim was Roberto Annese, 33, a university student who died Saturday in Maracaibo, capital of the northwestern Venezuelan state of Zulia, and whose death was attributed by Zulia’s Bolivarian Police Force, or CPBEZ, to an explosive device that he was allegedly handling while manning a street barricade on the state capital’s north side.
But according to the online version of the Maracaibo daily La Verdad, Annese, a political science student, was killed by bullets allegedly fired by CPBEZ police agents that soon after dawn arrived at the scene to remove the barricade.
Rodriguez Torres said that six people have been arrested in Maracaibo for trying to blame Roberto Annese’s death on a police attack.
Zulia Gov. Francisco Arias Cardenas, a Maduro ally, wrote on his Twitter account, “The Zulian people want to live in peace and quiet. Let us stop the violence please God!!”
Maracaibo Mayor Eveling Trejo, a regional leader of the opposition to Maduro and who had previously confirmed the death of Annese, said “we don’t want to cry anymore for the blood of Venezuela’s sons and daughters being spilled. How long will the country shed the blood of our young? Enough!”