One Dead as Venezuela’s Opposition Protests Constituent Assembly

Anti-government protesters erected burning barricades on Wednesday. (AVN)

By RYAN MALLETT-OUTTRIM of venezuelanalysis.com

Puebla, Mexico, May 4, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Violent anti-government protests continued in Venezuela Wednesday, leaving one person dead and hundreds injured.

Eighteen-year-old protester Amando Canizales was killed in the afternoon, after a melee broke out at a protest in Caracas. The exact circumstances of the death remain unclear, though the Interior Ministry has confirmed that Canizales was shot in the neck. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has dispatched a district attorney to investigate the homicide.

“It is important to point out … we deplore these types of actions and, in turn, we affirm our commitment to do justice,” the prosecution stated.

The opposition has blamed security forces for the death.

“Another young Venezuelan murdered by your sick ambition @nicolasmaduro,” Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles tweeted.

The death brings the casualty toll in a month of anti-government protests to 37, including 13 killed as a result of the actions of opposition supporters and 5 confirmed dead at the hands of state security forces.

The latest protest was planned by the opposition with a surprise destination—the National Assembly in western Caracas— which was revealed just hours before the march began, despite the lack of a necessary permit.

The move sparked fears the opposition protest could run into a rival pro-government rally just two blocks away. Security forces were deployed to keep the two rallies apart, though the opposition demonstration quickly devolved into violence.

The fighting started at the Francisco Fajardo Highway, where protesters tried to force their way through the National Guard (GNB) lines. Barricades were erected across the highway, and the GNB were attacked with improvised explosives, including Molotov cocktails. The GNB responded with water cannons and rubber bullets. At one point, a GNB armored car was seen driving towards a group of protesters. Opposition media claimed the vehicle ran over protesters in an unprovoked attack. One video of the incident went viral, and appeared to show the vehicle ploughing into a group of demonstrators.

However, footage from a different angle shows the vehicle charged the crowd to relieve a group of soldiers being attacked by demonstrators.

The anti-riot vehicle was later torched by protesters. A GNB motorbike was also set alight as part of a barricade in the Altamira neighborhood of Chacao. As shown in video footage taken by El Nacional, the gas tank of the motorbike subsequently exploded, setting one of the protesters on fire. The demonstrator later reportedly received medical attention from security forces and survived the incident.

In total, an estimated 200 people were injured in Wednesday’s clashes according to unverified claims made by the opposition mayor of Baruta, Gerardo Blyde.

The latest protests were in response to President Nicolás Maduro’s recent announcement to convoke a constituent assembly as a solution to the country’s political standoff. While the move has been welcomed by many grassroots groups, the opposition has accused Maduro of seeking to outmanoeuvre Venezuela’s parliament, the National Assembly. The National Assembly is controlled by the opposition.

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This story was originally published on May 4, 2017 on Venezuelanalysis.com

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