Another young man killed during protests in Venezuela; Chief prosecutor charges National Guard commander over attack on parliament

Ruben Dario Gonzalez, 17, was shot and killed in Valencia, Carabobo state, Monday, during nationwide protests against the embattled administration of Nicolas Maduro.

“We regret to inform that Ruben Dario Gonzalez, 17 years of age, has passed on due to a bullet impact in La Isabelica Sector 3”, tweeted Marco Bozo Tamayo, an opposition lawmaker representing Valencia. “La Isabelica” is a working class section of the city that started revolting against Maduro in 2014 and has with time only grown more radicalized. 

Gonzalez is the latest victim of Maduro’s repressive forces, raising the death toll to at least 91 since protests began on April 1, according to a tally divulged by the chief prosecutor’s office on Monday. 

While no suspects have been named in Gonzalez’s death, the same agency has reported that three groups are being investigated for most demonstrator killings: National Guard, National Police and “armed civilians”, or pro-Maduro “colectivo” gangs.

On Monday morning, Venezuelans took to almost every street corner and intersection to stop motor traffic in a demonstration called “the big shutdown” or “el trancazo” to protest against Maduro, even after opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was granted house arrest in an apparent goodwill gesture from the government, one that failed to win demonstrators over, however.

In other news, Venezuela's chief prosecutor filed charges against a senior National Guard commander over an attack on congress in which four lawmakers were beaten up by pro-government activists. 

As head of security at the National Assembly, Col. Bladimir Lugo was responsible for troops who stood by Wednesday when the activists stormed into congress and began swinging wooden planks and steel bars at lawmakers gathered to commemorate Venezuela's independence day. 

Lugo is the third top official accused of abuses by chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega since anti-government rallies started three months ago. 

President Nicolas Maduro has praised the behavior of security forces in putting down the protests and personally decorated Lugo after an earlier incident in which he shoved National Assembly President Julio Borges.

 

 

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