Teen, Pregnant 28-Year-Old Latest Killed in Attacks on Venezuelan Protesters
On Sunday, a 16-year-old protester died of a severe beating by the Venezuelan National Guard, and a pregnant 28-year-old woman was shot exiting a bus during a protest, as Nicolás Maduro's regime continues to use severe violence to oppress national dissatisfaction with the socialist regime.
According to Spanish newspaper ABC, a press release by opposition party Popular Will stated that an unidentified 16-year-old male was killed in the rebel city of San Cristóbal after receiving "'a severe beating' from the Bolivarian National Guard." It is currently unknown whether the teenager was participating in a protest, as the city of San Cristóbal is currently under martial law after the arrest of opposition mayor Daniel Ceballos.
In the more inland state of Miranda, Miranda governor and former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski announced on Twitter Sunday that Adriana Urquiola, a 28-year-old sign language interpreter for Venevision network, was shot twice and died on the way to the hospital. Urquiola was three months pregnant. Infobae reports that witnesses alleged that a black truck was driving near anti-Maduro protests and opened fire, hitting Urquiola twice as she stepped off a bus. Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional adds that the gunshots were targeted "against protesters, who were blocking lanes in the neighborhood and, previously, Panamerican Highway."
There is no indication that Urquiola was participating in the protests.
These deaths bring the death toll to 36, as outlets reported Sunday that 34 protesters, mostly young, had been killed in clashes that began last February when Maduro ordered the arrest of Popular Will leader Leopoldo López. In response to the protesters' demands for the freedom of political prisoners, including López, Maduro arrested two other mayors--Ceballos and San Diego Mayor Enzo Scarano, and he threatened to arrest more public servants who oppose his socialist politics.
While the death toll continues to skyrocket, the official National Guard continues to attack protesters and raid opposition strongholds. Protesters uploaded more videos this weekend of National Guard officers shooting at protesters and entering cities with tanks in hopes of intimidating the protesters into submission. This is especially common in San Cristóbal, the capital of the western state of Táchira, which borders Colombia and has become the opposition's unofficial capital:
After weeks of international pressure, the Venezuelan government has admitted that National Guard soldiers have killed and injured protesters, though they have yet to acknowledge the countless reports of torture occurring at the hands of Cuban-trained National Guard soldiers. Attorney General Luisa Ortega described these incidents as "police excesses" and announced 60 different investigations on National Guard soldiers this week.
Many doubt that any official investigation will stop the Venezuelan government from committing violent acts against the country's citizens. As Mary O'Grady explains in The Wall Street Journal, much of the violence also occurs at the hands of unofficial Chavista guerrilla groups called "motorizados." They patrol the streets on motorcycle and attack protesters. The motorizado brigade, O'Grady revealed, was cultivated under Chávez and continues to be an unofficial wing of the Venezuelan military today.
As the bloodshed continues, opposition leaders continue to call for protests and international intervention to stop the violence. Last week, deputy María Corina Machado, who Maduro is currently investigating for "criminal acts," visited Washington to encourage the Organization of American States to intervene in the violence. She was not allowed to speak before the committee.