Death toll in Venezuela's political unrest rises to at least 24

by Garry Watts April 27, 2017, 2:10
Death toll in Venezuela's political unrest rises to at least 24

In the latest tally of deaths, opposition leaders said Juan Pablo Pernalete Llovera, 20, was killed after being struck in the head by a tear gas canister in Caracas. Thousands of protesters shut down the capital city's main highway to express their disgust with the socialist administration of President Nicolas Maduro.

But protests are also fuelled by the crippling economic crisis in the oil-rich nation of 30 million people.

"I want everything to end: the hunger, the murders, the corruption, all the ills we are suffering. We are the majority", said student Ricardo Ropero, 20, at a march in Caracas.

This month's turbulence is Venezuela's worst since 2014 when 43 people died in months of mayhem sparked by protests against Maduro, the 54-year-old successor to late leader Hugo Chavez.

The ruling Socialist Party accuses foes of seeking a violent coup with U.S. connivance, while the opposition says Maduro is a dictator repressing peaceful protest.

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Awad Al-Awad was named minister of culture and information, another key position in the government, replacing Adel Al-Toraifi. Minister of Telecommunications and IT Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel has been replaced by Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha.

Security forces Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro that attempted to march to the Ombudsman's office in downtown in another day of protests that have already claimed dozens lives since the start of April. When water cannons were turned on the marchers, they fell back and skirmishes spread to surrounding streets through the afternoon.

Maduro claims that the protests are incited by the Unites Stated to remove him from power.

The opposition's main demands are for elections, the release of jailed activists and autonomy for the opposition-led legislature.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez said Venezuela is ready to withdraw from the Organization of American States if a meeting of foreign ministers takes place Wednesday, April 26.

The opposition blames Maduro for the unraveling of the once-booming economy. While the country lacks food and medicine, the opposition strategy aims to force early general elections. The opposition now has majority support and the ruling Socialists would likely lose any vote.

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