Over two dozen people have died since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began.
Headlines about ongoing violence in Venezuela are practically inescapable, with over two dozen people have died since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began in early April.
Right-wing opposition leaders have attempted to portray the deaths as examples of state repression and evidence of the “dictatorship” that they are aiming to topple. Mainstream media have by and large echoed this version of events, using titles like “Venezuelan Regime Has Blood On Its Hands” and “Venezuela’s Tiananmen Moment.”
Some outlets have even gone as far as claiming the elected government of Nicolas Maduro as engaging in “a campaign of state genocide.”
The reality of the situation on the ground, however, demonstrates something very different.
Of those killed thus far, three are attributed to state security forces, while two of the dead are members of police themselves. The total number of dead is significantly bolstered by the eight who were electrocuted as they attempted to loot a bakery, while five of those killed were expressly connected to opposition protests. On the other hand, 10 of the deceased are attributed to right-wing violence.
In addition to the more than two dozen killed, 437 people have been injured in the protests, Venezuelan Attorney General, Luisa Ortega said.
Here’s a breakdown of those killed since the opposition protests began.
- Jairo Ortiz: the 19-year-old student, was shot by transit police Officer Rohenluis Leonel Mata in the state of Miranda. Venezuelan police immediately detained Mata, who is set to face criminal charges.
- Ricarda de Lourdes: the 83-year-old woman died at her home in Caracas on April 10 from hydrocephalus. When her symptoms began flaring earlier that day, she was unable to be transported to a nearby hospital because opposition protesters blocked all of the neighborhood’s roads, preventing ambulances from picking her up.
- Daniel Queliz: the 20-year-old college student from Carabobo, was shot by police on April 10 while participating in an opposition protest.
- Yey Amaro: 37-year-old police officer in the state of Lara, was hit by a vehicle driven by opposition protesters on April 11 after trying to mediate protests in his home state.
- Brayan Principal: 13-year-old resident of the Ali Primera Socialist City, was shot by opposition protesters on April 11 after they toppled the main gate of the commune.
- Oliver Villa Camargo: 29-year-old digital marketing entrepreneur, was shot by unidentified assailants on motorbikes in Caracas after evading an opposition barricade in the El Paraiso sector of Caracas.
- Miguel Angel Colmenarez: a 36-year-old opposition supporter from Lara, was shot on April 12 in unclear circumstances by unidentified assailants on motorbikes nearby a protest.
- Gruseny Antonio Canelon: the 32-year-old opposition supporter from Lara died of organ failure on April 13 after being shot during an anti-government demonstration two days earlier. Fifteen members of the National Guard have been placed under arrest in the incident.
- Paola Ramirez: the 23-year-old college student from Tachira was shot on April 19 over 20 times. Members of the right-wing Vente Venezuela opposition group are under arrest for the murder.
- Carlos Moreno: a 19-year-old student, was shot in the head in Caracas on April 19. Family members say he was not involved in the protest, and it is suspected his murder was perpetrated by armed robbers who stole his motorcycle.
- Niumar José Sanclemente Barrios: the 28-year-old sergeant with the National Guard, who was apparently killed by sniper fire during riots in the Caracas suburb of San Antonio de las Altas.
- Kevin Leon: the 30-year-old bakery worker in the El Valle district of Caracas, was shot on April 20 by opposition protesters who were vandalizing his workplace.
- Ramon Martinez: 29-year-old cook who worked in the same bakery as Kevin Leon, was also shot by opposition protesters on April 20.
14-21. Eight were electrocuted on April 20 when they attempted to loot a bakery in El Valle, Caracas. Names have not been released nor have the circumstances of the electrocution been verified, though there is speculation that the bakery had an electrified gate.
- Melvin Guitan: a 26-year-old who worked for a mayor’s office in Sucre, was shot by unidentified gunmen on April 20 during a protest.
- Almelina Carrillo Virguez: 47-year-old was struck in the head with a frozen water bottle thrown from a building while walking near a pro-government march in Caracas. (see report below)
- Jesus Sulbaran: 42-year-old criminology student and an official in the governor’s office in Merida, was killed while participating in a pro-government demonstration, according to Venezuela’s ombudsman.
- Daniel Infante: the 25-year-old transportation worker was killed while participating in a pro-government demonstration, according to Venezuela’s ombudsman.
- Renzo Rodriguez Roda: 54-year-old was killed in the state of Barinas from a gunshot wound to his chest when he was in the vicinity of the mayor’s office of the Bolivar municipality of Barinas.
- Orlando Johan Jhosep Medina: 23-year-old, died of a gunshot wound during a protest in the city of El Tocuyo, Lara state
Disturbingly, there are also other people whose murders during these dates raise concerns about targeted assassinations and possible paramilitary activity.
- Esmin Ramirez: Venezuelan trade union was killed Sunday in the southeastern state of Bolivar after being kidnapped in an act that people close to him claim was politically motivated. Ramirez, who was a member of the Movement 21 labor syndicate in the state-run iron ore producer Ferrominera and part of the PSUV political party in Cachamay, was killed in El Rinconcito sector in Guayana City, a city along the bank of the Orinoco River in Bolivar state. (see report below)
- Jackeline Ortega: murdered in the greater Caracas area in Santa Lucia del Tuy. Ortega was also a member of the PSUV as well as a leader in the Local Committee on Supply and Production, known as CLAP, a government-created alternative food distribution program. (see report below)
Venezuelan Social Leader Assassinated Near Opposition Barricade
Venezuelan social justice activist Efrain Sierra Quintero died on Tuesday after he was injured during protests on Monday, Tachira Governor Jose Vielma Mora reported, raising Monday’s death toll to five people.
Sierra Quintero, 27, was shot in the stomach as people were trying to steal his motorbike close to a barricade set up by opposition protesters, he added. Sierra Quintero was active in pro-worker and pro-government struggles.
“Once more the protests convoked by the opposition in Tachira leaves us with a death toll in the state,” Vielma twitted.
He reported that five more people were injured during the protests, including two military officers.
In the past three weeks of repeated violent opposition protests, hundreds have been injured and at least 27 people have died.
Right-wing opposition leaders have attempted to portray the deaths as examples of state repression and evidence of the “dictatorship” that they are aiming to topple. Most of those killed, however, were actually victims of protester violence.
Fourteen-year-old Brayan Principal, for example, was shot by opposition protesters in the Ali Primera Socialist City after they toppled the main gate of the commune. And Kevin Leon, a 19-year-old bakery worker in the El Valle district of Caracas, was shot by opposition protesters who were vandalizing his workplace.
Although opposition supporters have also been slain amid protests, most of those killed initiated acts of violence against police and civilians across the country.
Up to 437 people have been injured in the protests, according to Attorney General Luisa Ortega.
Local Venezuelan Socialist Party Leader Assassinated in Miranda State
Venezuelan Authorities are investigating the assassination of a local United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader in Miranda state.
Jacqueline Josefina Ortega, 48, was murdered in her home in Santa Lucia on Saturday by four unidentified men armed with handguns, who reportedly arrived on motorcycles.
Nicknamed “La Negrita”, Ortega was a territorial leader in the PSUV’s Miranda branch as well as a member of her local communal council. She also coordinated the activities of the Local Production and Distribution Committee (CLAP) in her neighborhood.
The murder comes just five days after Ortega’s son, Waltter Ali Ortega (32), was shot dead near his residence. Authorities are investigating any possible links between the killings.
Chavista Trade Unionist Kidnapped and Murdered in Venezuela
Venezuela trade union leader, Esmin Ramirez, was killed Sunday in the state of Bolivar after being kidnapped in an act that people close to him claim was driven by political motives.
Ramirez, who was a member of the Movement 21 labor syndicate in the state-run iron ore producer Ferrominera and part of the PSUV political party in Cachamay, was killed in El Rinconcito sector in Guayana City, a city along the bank of the Orinoco River in Bolivar state.
The leader was killed by several gunshots in the head. He had been previously kidnapped on Saturday night in San Felix. His body was retrieved by officials Sunday.
Ferrominera expressed condolences through a statement on social media, saying the company hoped that authorities would investigate and clarify the details surrounding the Ramirez’ death.
Ramirez had denounced previous attacks against other members of his organization in the past and was an active participant in marches to show support for President Nicolas Maduro, as well as on social media.
The union leader was preparing for a massive march for International Worker’s Day on May 1.
Meanwhile, another community, Jackeline Ortega, was murdered in the greater Caracas area in Santa Lucia del Tuy. Ortega was also a member of the PSUV as well as a leader in the Local Committee on Supply and Production, known as CLAP, a government-created alternative food distribution program.
Ortega was reportedly shot dead by four masked assailants.
Venezuela faces a violent wave of protests called by the right-wing opposition that has left injured and at least 22 people dead, including a woman who was walking past a pro-government march and a member of the police.
Venezuelan Opposition Marches in Caracas as Woman Dies of Head Injury Inflicted by Frozen Bottle
Venezuelan opposition supporters took to the streets of Caracas Saturday in a “silent march” for those killed in over three weeks of anti-government protests.
In contrast to last Wednesday and Thursday’s mobilizations that saw violent clashes with authorities as protesters attempted to enter the city center without a permit, Saturday’s march was allowed to reached the headquarters of the country’s Catholic archdiocese in the working class western Caracas neighborhood of La Vega.
Speaking to reporters during the rally, Democratic Action leader Henry Ramos Allup came under fire for suggesting that there would be more “potential” victims over the following days. At the time of writing, 25 people had been killed in the violence since April 6, including at least six at the hands of opposition protesters.
“This is a silent tribute to the fallen, the wounded, the dead, the victims, including the potential and eventual victims that there will surely be in the coming days,” he declared.
On Sunday, Almelina Carrillo died of a fatal cranial injury inflicted by a frozen bottle thrown from a high-rise apartment building in downtown Caracas towards the pro-government march below. On April 19, the 47-year-old nurse was on her way to her afternoon shift when she crossed paths with the Chavista march and was critically injured by the blunt object presumably thrown by an opposition sympathizer.
Venezuela’s Justice Ministry has confirmed that Carrillo died on Sunday, making her the fifth person allegedly killed by anti-government demonstrators since the protests turned violent on April 4. A pro-government demonstrator was later killed by presumed opposition gunfire this April 24 during an attack on a march attended by state government workers. Three police officers have also been indicted and 15 National Guardsmen arrested for the killing of two protesters and one bystander.
Authorities are likewise investigating the deaths of six people under unclear circumstances in the vicinity of the protests. A further nine looters were electrocuted Thursday evening during violent unrest in El Valle, Caracas.
While Saturday’s march was peaceful, the mobilization concluded with renewed focos of anti-government violence.
The Caracas Metro has confirmed that one of its employees was attacked at approximately 4:30 pm on Saturday afternoon by “violent groups” allegedly comprised of opposition supporters returning home following the demonstration.
“In the moment that the [southwestern Caracas] Antímano station was being closed due to nearby vandalism, metro operator Luis Martinez was assaulted by violent groups, causing him acute contusions in his right check, left knee, and right elbow,” stated Caracas Metro Operational Manager Luis Galindo.
Security camera footage shows Martinez being attacked after he closed the entrance to the station by a crowd of white-clad individuals, one of whom appears to punch the metro worker in the face.
Caracas’ upscale municipality of Chacao likewise saw fresh incidents of violence on Saturday afternoon.
Opposition demonstrators once again returned to the Plaza Francia in Altamira, where they erected burning barricades and vandalized the nearby British Tower, which houses the National Institute of Statistics.
Meanwhile on Friday, the Robert Serra House of Youth and Memory in Caracas’ northwestern La Pastora parish was the target of a Molotov bomb attack. The youth center is dedicated to Venezuela’s youngest ever congressman, Robert Serra, and his assistant, Maria Herrera, who were assassinated by alleged paramilitary groups in 2014.
“They want to go against our symbols and everything that we have built under the revolution,” decried the coordinator of the Robert Serra Youth of the Homeland Mission, Mayerling Arias.
The bomb attack is the latest in a series of aggressions against public institutions, state security personnel, as well as private businesses in recent days, including the ransacking of the offices of the national consumer protection watchdog, the killing of a National Guard sergeant by sniper fire, and the besieging of a maternity hospital leading to the evacuation of 54 infants and small children.
Opposition leaders have vowed to continue street protests until the Maduro administration meets all of their demands, including freeing those they term “political prisoners”, allowing humanitarian aid into the country, setting a date for early presidential elections, and “respect for the National Assembly”.
On Monday, the opposition held a “national sit-in” aimed at blocking roads throughout the country in a show of force. However, turnout appeared to be smaller than in previous mobilizations last week.
National Assembly Vice-President Freddy Guevara said Saturday that the goals of the action are to “expose the true face of the dictatorship” and “create ingovernability”.