By Lucas Koerner
Caracas, June 5, 2017 (Venezuelanalysis)
A Venezuelan man burned alive by opposition protesters has died of his injuries as anti-government unrest claimed two more lives over the weekend.
Afro-Venezuelan Orlando Figuera died in the hospital on Saturday evening after suffering six knife wounds as well as first and second-degree burns on 54 percent of his body.
On May 20, the 21-year-old was passing through the opposition stronghold of Chacao when he was accused of being a government supporter by masked protesters, who brutally beat him before dousing him in gasoline and setting him on fire.
The death was made by public by the national ombudsman, Tarek William Saab, who called for the “maximum sentence against the lynchers”.
“Orlando Figuera, beaten, stabbed, and burned alive by “protesters”, is the symbol of hate crimes in Venezuela,” the top human rights official declared via Twitter.
In an interview with state broadcaster VTV, Figuera’s mother, Ines Esparragoza blamed opposition leaders for the murder. “Why does [National Assembly President] Julio Borges allow this? Why does [Miranda Governor] Henrique Capriles allow it? Who do I blame? The opposition, because they are the ones who doused my son in gasoline like an animal,” she stated.
Esparragoza has reported being fired from her job as a domestic worker in a private residence, which she has denounced as a reprisal over the VTV interview.
For its part, the Public Prosecutor’s office (MP) has indicated that investigations into the murder continue and that the alleged perpetrators have been identified.
In addition to Figuera, two more people have died of injures linked to violent protests that have rocked the country for the past two months.
On Friday, Luis Miguel Gutierrez Molina (20) died of a bullet wound he suffered during a protest on May 17 in Merida state. El Universal has reported that the incident took place during clashes between demonstrators and authorities.
The MP has dispatched a state prosecutor to investigate the homicide.
Meanwhile in Lara, another man died in the hospital on Saturday after being shot in the vicinity of a protest on April 11.
According to the preliminary MP report, Yoiner Peña (28) was shot in the back near a protest in Barquismeto by unknown assailants in a pickup truck who reportedly opened fire on those present.
However, the national ombudsman’s office has issued a conflicting account, suggesting that Peña was “mortally wounded in an [anti-government] barricade”.
According to Saab, Peña is the ninth person killed at opposition barricades since the violent protests began on April 4.
Seventy-three people have lost their lives as a result of the unrest.
Opposition leaders have announced a fresh round of protests for this week, vowing to remain in the streets until the government meets their various demands, including holding presidential elections one year ahead of schedule.