Venezuela: Police Charge Four Soldiers for Killing Man Demanding Gasoline

A liter of 91-octane gasoline in Venezuela costs one bolivar -- but an egg in the hyperinflation ravaged economy costs 200,000 bolivars, and one US dollar trades on the black market at 3.5 million bolivars
AFP/Federico PARRA

Four soldiers and two civilians in Venezuela have been charged with murdering a man protesting the country’s chronic gasoline shortages, El Nacional reported Wednesday.

The Maduro regime’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced on Tuesday that a captain and three sergeants of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) would face charges of homicide following the death of Carlos Chaparro, who had been protesting gasoline shortages.

According to the non-governmental organization the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS), the 47-year-old was killed on Saturday in Araguaia de Barcelona while protesting irregularities regarding gasoline distribution.

A video first released by the OVCS purportedly shows a group of people protesting in their local plaza with GNB troops present. Suddenly, a flurry of shots is heard and a man is seen lying on the ground motionless. His funeral was held on Monday and was attended by hundreds of locals protesting his death.

Saab added that law enforcement would charge two civilians for being accomplices in the crime of qualified homicide and failure to assist the individual when wounded.

Chaparro is the second man to have died during the recent spate of fuel protests occurring across Venezuela. On July 17, an 18-year-old was similarly killed by a gunshot wound in Zulia state while protesting gasoline shortages.

Despite having the second-largest known oil reserves in the world after America, fuel shortages have become part and parcel of life in Venezuela. In June, production of crude oil reportedly fell for the sixth consecutive month, decreasing by a further 32 percent, forcing the Maduro regime to import reserves from allies such as Russia, China, and Iran.

Foreign supplies are continuously failing to meet demand, leading to many people being forced to wait for hours or sometimes days in order to access fuel for their vehicles. Last week, authorities in the western state of Táchira suspended the sale of gasoline entirely in what they claim was a radical measure against the Chinese coronavirus, although many doubted this was the true reason.

The Maduro regime now requires Venezuelans to provide biometric data when filling up, checked against the government’s database using the “Fatherland Card,” developed by China as a means of monitoring citizens’ behavior and spending habits.

Although the price of fuel still remains extremely cheap (around $0.025 a liter), this is a relatively large amount for many Venezuelans living on just a few dollars a month. Those who exceed the quota set by the regime are then charged at $0.50 per liter, making it nearly impossible for people to fill up a gas tank.

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