Youth Day marches in Caracas, Venezuela turned violent with at least three people dead from gunshot wounds. Protests against the government have been escalating since the inauguration of President Nicolas Maduro in April 2013. The violent events were another cry from the opposition hardliners, who have been denouncing Maduro through demonstrations in provinces weeks prior to the latest incident.
According to the government, the opposition is trying to use violence to spark a coup against the president – the same scenario former president Hugo Chavez faced in 2002.
Over a hundred student protesters in downtown Caracas were clashing with the security service when the event happened. The area was filled with gunfire coming from a vigilante group of government supporters who arrived on motorcycles. The startled crowd fled in alarm as 24-year-old Bazil D’Acosta fell to the ground bleeding with a gunshot wound to the head. A revolutionary and leader of the government support-group, 23rd of January Collective, known as Juancho was also killed in the incident. The third death happened on the streets of Chacao just after nightfall.
The turmoil arose just after a day of peaceful protests by the opposition. Some students vented out their frustration and denounced the president for not being able to control the crime and violence. They also complained about the product shortages and inflation that has been rampant in the country.
After the riot, both the opposition and government supporters pointed the blame at each other. Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader, says that the students were peacefully protesting and the government supporters were responsible for the violence, which was done to make it appear as if the students were at fault. The fighting that occurred will be investigated further, as it was caught on video, according to Attorney General Luisa Ortega.
Amidst the controversy, President Maduro says that he will do everything he can to bring back peace. He also said that no one will be exempt from the consequences of illegal protesting.
Reports say 4 police vehicles were burned, 25 were arrested, and 23 were injured in the protest.
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