17-year-old killed in Venezuela protests as unrest persists

Opposition protests in Venezuela took a deadly turn again Wednesday when a teenager was killed at a march demanding an end to the government's push to rewrite the struggling nation's constitution. 

Hundreds of national guardsmen and police officers fired tear gas at protesters a day after Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez called for members of the military to refrain from excessive use of force. 

Opposition leaders identified the young man as 17-year-old Neomar Lander, and his relatives said he had gone with family members to demonstrate peacefully. "I'm going to keep fighting," said the teen's uncle, Mauro Arellano. Videos circulating on social media showed paramedics trying to resuscitate a lifeless Lander as he bled profusely from his chest. 

Residents banged on pots and pans for an hour in protest as night fell near the site of his death. Stores were closed and streets empty long before dark in a usually bustling part of the capital. 

Lander’s death was yet another indication that confrontations between state security forces and opponents of the social administration are unlikely to fizzle soon. Nearly 70 people have died in two months of political unrest fed by Venezuela's triple-digit inflation, widespread food shortages and high crime. 

On Tuesday, Padrino Lopez had warned that he didn't want to see "one more national guardsman committing an atrocity on the street." Nonetheless, Wednesday's march followed the pattern seen regularly in near daily protests, with security forces launching canisters of tear gas at protesters to keep them from reaching their intended destination. That same day, Padrino Lopez reiterated his support for the national guard on Twitter.

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