4 Killed as Venezuela’s General Strike against Maduro’s Government Turns Violent

People flee the area as demonstrators clash with members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) in Caracas, Venezuela, 20 July 2017. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • At least 4 people have been killed in sporadic violence during a general strike launched by the Venezuelan opposition.
  • Death toll in Venezuela’s 111 days of anti-government protests has climbed to 119, according to some estimates.
  • New general strike is Venezuela’s first since a national strike tried but failed to topple former leader Hugo Chavez in 2002.
  • Maduro’s administration has said it is going to publish private companies supporting the opposition’s strike.

At least four people have been killed in violence erupting sporadically during a general strike in Venezuela declared by the opposition as part of the four-month long protests against the government of leftist President Nicolas Maduro.

Thus, the violent antigovernment protests in Venezuela, which have lasted for 111 days now, have already claimed 119 lives, according to some estimates, and have injured thousands, while thousands of other protesters have been arrested by the police.

The Venezuelan opposition’s general strike comes after on Sunday the overwhelming majority of those who voted in the opposition’s unofficial referendum rejected Maduro’s plan to change the constitution and supplant the opposition-leaning Parliament with a “Constituent Assembly”.

In early July, armed pro-government militias supporting Venezuela’s controversial President Nicolas Maduro stormed the country’s Parliament, and assaulted several opposition deputies amid the ongoing anti-government protests in the South American country.

A week earlier Oscar Perez, a police officer, stole a helicopter and launched an attack against Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court and the Interior Ministry in Caracas.

Protesters across Venezuela took to the streets on April 1 to demand the resignation of President Maduro, the successor of late leader Hugo Chavez and his leftist ideology, Chavism (Chavismo), after the country’s courts tried to strengthen the regime even further.

The anti-government protests in Venezuela’s capital Caracas and a number of major cities have erupted as the oil-rich South American country has been sinking into a deeper and deeper economic crisis, resulting from low oil prices, political mismanagement, and top-level corruption.

Over the past couple of years the escalating crises in what once was the richest South American country has led to steep deterioration of public health with infectious diseases such as malaria creeping back.

The street protests began in response to decisions by Venezuela’s Supreme Court to temporarily assume some of the responsibilities of the opposition-minded National Assembly, and to revoke the immunity of the legislators.

Although both decisions were overturned within days, opposition leaders continue to lead the protests aimed at toppling President Nicolas Maduro, removing the members of the Supreme Court, restoration of local and regional elections, and release of political prisoners.

Venezuela’s President Maduro calls the protesters “terrorists” and insists the demonstrations are a cover for a coup plot orchestrated by the US.

The Protesters’ motivation was boosted at the beginning of May when Maduro announced he would call up a constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution.

Members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) fire their weapons during clashes with opposition protesters in Caracas, Venezuela, 20 July 2017. Photo: Nathalie Sayago/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

More Fatalities

At least four people have been killed in Venezuela in violent opposition protests called as part of a national strike against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, reported Telesur, a state-sponsored pro-government news outlet.

Andres Uzcategui, 23, was reportedly shot in clashes in the La Isabelica neighborhood of Valencia, in Carabobo.

Ronny Tejera, 24, was killed in a protest in Santa Eulalia de Los Teques. Initial reports indicate Tejera died in a shootout. Three others were also seriously injured.

Two more people were also killed in a blaze at the Housing Ministry in the state of Zulia, reported Housing Minister Manuel Quevedo.

According to Quevedo, a group of 100 men surrounded the building and set it on fire, leaving at least two dead and many others injured. The deaths have not yet been confirmed by Venezuela’s attorney general.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol also announced that two members of the Bolivarian National Guard had been shot in the violent protests and remain in a critical condition.

The Venezuelan attorney general’s office said it will investigate the deaths of Uzcategui and Tejera and nine others who were injured.

There were reports of a man being set on fire after being hit by an explosive thrown from a rooftop. He suffered burns over 27% of his body.

Another man was injured when his neck was caught on an wire that blocked the road as he rode his motorcycle. Both men were transferred to hospitals.

In another incident, a police post was set on fire across the street from the state television station VTV, which received threats that led to the evacuation of its nursery in order to keep the children safe.

In the state of Lara, an opposition group surrounded the state-owned milk company Lacteos Los Andes and tried to explode its gas tank.

As night fell in Caracas, there were continued reports of sporadic shooting in the eastern part of the city.

The escalating violence comes ahead of elections for Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly on July 30.

Opposition protesters take cover behind a barricade in Caracas, Venezuela, 20 July 2017. Photo: Nathalie Sayago/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

General Strike

Businesses across Venezuela remained closed Thursday as the majority-backed opposition staged a general strike as part of a civil disobedience campaign referred to as “zero hour,” international media reported.

Their aim is to end nearly two decades of Socialist Party rule. It was the first major national strike since a 2002 stoppage that failed to topple Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Only state-run firms were open, though many were short on staff after employees failed to appear.

No disruptions were expected at oil company PDVSA which brings in about 95 percent of Venezuela’s export revenue.

Labor Minister Nestor Ovalles meanwhile said that the Maduro administration would punish private companies that were in support of the strike.

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