Venezuela sends troops to western region to stop looting amid protests
The Venezuelan government has announced that it is deploying soldiers to the country’s western region following a night of looting during anti-government protests.
“I have ordered the transfer of 2,000 guards and 600 special operations troops” to San Cristobal, the capital of Tachira state, said Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez during a televised announcement on Wednesday.
Protesters began attacking security installations and looting stores on Tuesday night in the border town with Colombia. A 15-year-old boy was also killed by gunfire during a spate of looting.
The state prosecutor’s office has confirmed that Jose Francisco Guerrero was killed on Wednesday.
“My mom sent my brother yesterday to buy flour for dinner and a little while later, we received a call saying he’d been injured by a bullet,” said the boy’s sister.
The youth’s death brings the toll to 43 since the unrest escalated in the country last month.
The latest wave of unrest initially erupted in early April, when the government-allied Supreme Court stripped the opposition-controlled parliament of its powers. Although the decision was later revoked, protests continued and even strengthened.
Protesters are angry about shortages of food and medicine and a soaring inflation, blaming Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The government, however, says the protests are incited by the Unites Stated to remove the president from power.
Both the government and the opposition have also traded accusations of hiring armed groups to target one another.
‘US provoking unrest in Venezuela’
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has held its first meeting over the political turmoil in Venezuela.
“The intent of this briefing was to make sure everyone is aware of the situation… We’re not looking for Security Council action,” said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley after the Wednesday closed-door meeting.
“The international community needs to say, ‘Respect the human rights of your people or this is going to go in the direction we’ve seen so many others go’… We have been down this road with Syria, with North Korea, with South Sudan, with Burundi, with Burma,” she added.
However, Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Rafael Ramirez blasted the US for “meddling” in the internal affairs in his country in a bid to topple Maduro’s administration.
“The US meddling stimulates the action of violent groups in Venezuela,” he said, while showing photos of vandalism and violence carried out by opposition protesters.