Venezuela confirms young man killed during anti-Maduro protests

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 07, 2017 10:10 AM

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan authorities confirmed that a young man was killed on Thursday during anti-government protests and vowed to investigate the fatal attack, the first since a controversy over the Supreme Court blew up last week.

Thousands of Venezuelan opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government marched on Thursday to protest a decision by the administration-leaning top court to assume control of the opposition-led congress in what demonstrators said was a lurch toward dictatorship.

While the widely condemned decision was quickly overturned, the opposition has stepped up street protests against Maduro, even though such demonstrations have achieved little in the past.

The march culminated in clashes, and opposition leaders said on Thursday night that Jairo Ortiz was shot in a Caracas suburb by security forces that were breaking up a protest there.

"In the face of the vile assassination of the young Jairo Ortiz, we manifest our firm condemnation of such a vile act," state human rights ombudsman Tarek Saab said on Twitter early on Friday.

The opposition, which accuses Saab of being an extension of Maduro's government, was blocked on Thursday from marching to the ombudsman's office.

On Friday, anti-Maduro demonstrators gathered there from dawn, wrapping red tape emblazed with the words "danger, do not enter" around the office in a surprise protest.

"We declare this office closed because it's back is to the people," tweeted opposition legislator Milagros Paz. " ... Jairo Ortiz died in the hands of this regime."

Maduro said in a televised address on Thursday that authorities had detained 30 people involved in the demonstration as the country's fragmented opposition gained new impetus against a government it blames for the country's social and economic meltdown.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer)