clear
Friday September 22nd, 2017 7:28AM

Late-night clashes claim 9th victim of Venezuelan unrest

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A young Venezuelan man returning home late from work was fatally shot when he got caught in the middle of late-night street clashes that engulfed many working-class neighborhoods in Caracas.

The death Thursday night of Melvin Guitan in a poor neighborhood in eastern Caracas brings to nine the number of people killed nationwide this month as part of almost-daily, increasingly violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuelan social media was ablaze late into the night with grainy cell phone videos of light-armored vehicles plowing down dark streets to control pockets of protesters who set up burning barricades in several neighborhoods, including one a short distance from Caracas' main military base.

Amid the disturbances, mothers and newborn children had to be evacuated from a maternity hospital when it was swamped with tear gas. But while anti-government protesters accused riot police of being behind the attack, Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said armed groups hired by Maduro's opponents were to blame.

Vicente Paez, a local councilman, said Guitan was an employee of a Caracas-area city governed by an opposition mayor and didn't partake in the protests. It wasn't clear who shot him and there was no immediate comment from authorities.

The outburst of violence followed a second-straight day of major demonstrations Thursday that saw tens of thousands of Venezuelans flood into the streets to demand elections and denounce what they consider a dictatorial government.

The opposition said they have no intention of pulling back on protests that were triggered when the government-stacked Supreme Court three weeks ago gutted congress of its last vestiges of power, a move that was later reversed amid a storm of international criticism.

"Twenty days of resistance and we feel newly born," said opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara during an evening, outdoor press conference. Residents looking on from balconies in the eastern Caracas neighborhood that's at the heart of the protest movement cheered loudly in support.

The next planned protest is Saturday, when opponents are being asked to dress in white and march silently to commemorate the victims of the demonstration. There's also a sit-in to block major highways planned for Monday.

General Motors announced early Thursday that it was closing its operations in Venezuela after authorities seized its factory in the industrial city of Valencia, a move that could draw the Trump administration into the escalating chaos engulfing the nation.

The plant was confiscated Wednesday as anti-Maduro protesters clashed with security forces and pro-government groups. The seizure arose from an almost 20-year-old lawsuit brought by a former GM dealership in western Venezuela.

Hundreds of workers desperate for information about their jobs gathered at the plant Thursday to meet with government and military officials as well as representatives of the dealership that brought the lawsuit. The neglected factory hasn't produced a car since 2015, but GM still has 79 dealers that employ 3,900 people in Venezuela, where for decades it was the market leader.

The State Department said Thursday it was reviewing details of the GM case but called on Venezuelan authorities to act swiftly and transparently to resolve the dispute.

A number of major Latin American governments, including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, called on Venezuela to take steps to increase democratic order and halt the violence that has been swirling around the protests. Across the country, clashes have been intense as protests grow in size and fervor.

The unrest was sparked by a Supreme Court decision last month to strip Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress of its few remaining powers, a move that was later reversed amid a storm of international criticism. But the initial ruling reinvigorated Venezuela's fractious opposition, which had been struggling to channel growing disgust with Maduro over widespread food shortages, triple-digit inflation and rampant crime.

Opponents are pushing for Maduro's removal through early elections and the release of dozens of political prisoners. The government last year abruptly postponed regional elections that the opposition was heavily favored to win and it cut off a petition drive aimed at forcing a referendum seeking Maduro's removal before elections scheduled for late next year.

But the government hasn't backed down.

Already drawing criticism for the GM seizure, Maduro announced late Thursday that he wanted an investigation into cellphone operator Movistar for allegedly being part of the "coup-minded march" organized by his adversaries Wednesday. That march was the largest and most dramatic the country has seen in years. He said the subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica "sent millions of messages to users every two hours" in support of Wednesday's protests.

As tensions mount, the government is using its almost-complete control of Venezuela's institutions to pursue its opponents. On Wednesday alone, 565 protesters were arrested nationwide, according to Penal Forum, a local group that provides legal assistance to detainees. It said 334 remained in jail Thursday.

___

Associated Press photographer Juan Carlos Hernandez in Valencia and AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.

___

Joshua Goodman on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APjoshgoodman

___

More Associated Press reporting on Venezuela's problems can be found at https://www.ap.org/explore/venezuela-undone .

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Feminist protest, blank ballots in French vote
Feminist activists have hung a big banner from a church to protest French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the depressed northern town where she is casting her ballot
3:18AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Israel-Germany row shines spotlight on anti-occupation group
Former Israeli combat soldiers who were thrust into the center of a diplomatic row between Israel and Germany, say the sudden international spotlight has given them a bigger platform to speak out against Israel's 50-year occupation of Palestinians
3:09AM ( 28 minutes ago )
'Canelo' Alvarez dominates Chavez Jr., Golovkin next up
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez dominated a grudge against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., winning a unanimous decision in a fight that left no doubt who is the top active Mexican boxer
2:52AM ( 46 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Nepal man, 85, dies trying to become oldest Everest climber
Officials say an 85-year-old Nepali has died while attempting to scale Mount Everest to regain his title as the oldest person to climb the world's highest peak.
12:03AM ( 3 hours ago )
Mud in your eye: Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby in slop
Always Dreaming splashed through the slop to win the Kentucky Derby by 2 3/4 lengths, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez their second victories in the race but their first together
11:35PM ( 4 hours ago )
San Diego police killed boy, 15, in school parking lot
San Diego police have shot and killed a 15-year-old boy they say pulled a gun on them in a high school parking lot
10:30PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP National News
'Oh, the humanity!' Hindenburg anniversary, broadcast marked
Hundreds of people have gathered at a military base in New Jersey to mark the 80th anniversary of when the German airship Hindenburg burst into flames
9:24PM ( 6 hours ago )
US bobsledder Steven Holcomb, 37, found dead
US Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb, a three-time medalist, has been found dead
8:57PM ( 6 hours ago )
Nigeria says 82 Chibok girls free in Boko Haram exchange
82 Chibok schoolgirls freed 3 years after Boko Haram mass abduction in exchange for suspects
8:35PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Always Dreaming wins Kentucky Derby in slop
Always Dreaming has unofficially won the 143rd Kentucky Derby
7:13PM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: Divisidero wins 3rd straight Derby prelude race
Divisidero always rises to the occasion on Kentucky Derby day
6:05PM ( 9 hours ago )
French cybersecurity agency to probe Macron hacking attack
France's election campaign commission says "a significant amount of data" from the campaign of centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been leaked on social networks following a hacking attack
5:51PM ( 9 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
GOP chairman warns agencies about requests for records
GOP chairman tells several agencies the federal open records law doesn't apply to his committee's communications
11:52AM ( 15 hours ago )
Pentagon says Navy SEAL was killed in Somalia operation
The Pentagon has identified the Navy SEAL who was killed in a military operation in Somalia
11:17AM ( 16 hours ago )
Protections for 27 national monuments may be curtailed, cut
The Interior Department has identified 27 national monuments _ mostly in the West _ that may face the rolling back or elimination of protections put in place over the past two decades by presidents from both parties.
10:34AM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump's pick for Army post drops out amid growing criticism
The Republican state senator from Tennessee that President Donald Trump picked to be Army secretary has withdrawn his name from consideration amid intensifying criticism over his remarks about LGBT Americans and Muslims
11:59PM ( 1 day ago )
Leo Thorsness, decorated POW in Vietnam with McCain, dies
Retired Air Force Col. Leo Thorsness, a decorated Vietnam War hero who was cellmates with U.S. Sen. John McCain in an enemy prisoner camp, has died
9:52PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Trump wishes the nation a festive Cinco de Mayo
Trump sends warm wishes for Cinco de Mayo
8:57PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
S. Koreans want new leader to create jobs minus corruption
South Koreans expect the next president to create jobs and end the cozy ties between big family-run businesses and the government that often lead to corruption
12:32AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: French cybersecurity agency to probe Macron hack
A French government official says the state cybersecurity agency will investigate a hacking attack against presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron
2:36PM ( 13 hours ago )
The Latest: French in Quebec turn out in droves to vote
French natives are turning out in droves in the Canadian province of Quebec to cast a ballot in France's presidential runoff
2:15PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Many French cheer end of vitriolic campaign
From depressed northern France to the streets of Paris, many French voters are looking forward to the end of a presidential campaign marred by hostility, hacking and low-brow political discourse.
1:18PM ( 14 hours ago )
The Latest: Bettors putting money on underdog Le Pen
V The betting firm Ladbrokes says far-right Marine Le Pen is attracting 90 percent of the bets on the eve of the French presidential election, as people gamble that France be in line for an upset.
10:59AM ( 16 hours ago )
French watchdog: Macron data mixed in with fake news in leak
France's election campaign commission says "a significant amount of data" from the campaign of centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been leaked on social networks following a hacking attack
10:46AM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Feminist protest, blank ballots in French vote
Feminist activists have hung a big banner from a church to protest French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the depressed northern town where she is casting her ballot
3:18AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Israel-Germany row shines spotlight on anti-occupation group
Former Israeli combat soldiers who were thrust into the center of a diplomatic row between Israel and Germany, say the sudden international spotlight has given them a bigger platform to speak out against Israel's 50-year occupation of Palestinians
3:09AM ( 29 minutes ago )
'Canelo' Alvarez dominates Chavez Jr., Golovkin next up
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez dominated a grudge against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., winning a unanimous decision in a fight that left no doubt who is the top active Mexican boxer
2:52AM ( 46 minutes ago )
Tense France chooses new president, deciding Europe's fate
Voters across France are casting ballots in a presidential election runoff that could decide Europe's future, choosing between independent Emmanuel Macron and far-right populist Marine Le Pen
2:49AM ( 49 minutes ago )
ADB hoping US will step up and help lead regional lender
The head of the Asian Development Bank says he is hoping the U.S. will step up and support the regional lender despite President Donald Trump's avowed preference for bilateral cooperation
2:44AM ( 53 minutes ago )