Ministers at OAS meeting unable to agree on Venezuela resolution; Death toll reaches 73 as another youth is killed
Foreign ministers from across the Americas failed to reach agreement at a meeting on Monday on a resolution criticizing the government of Venezuela, which saw more violent repression against protests in Caracas as the discussions deadlocked in Mexico.
Ministers from the 34-nation Organization of American States met in Mexico after they were unable to reach a consensus statement in May on the political and economic crisis rocking Venezuela.
Mexico, Peru, the United States and other nations had been lobbying OAS member states to adopt a watered-down resolution aimed at defending representative democracy in Venezuela after seeing resistance from some of the country's allies.
Twenty states voted to pass a draft, but 23 votes in favor were needed to approve the statement. Eight countries abstained from voting while five rejected the draft. Venezuela has said it is leaving the OAS and did not vote.
In Caracas, Venezuelan opposition activists battled security forces at one of the largest demonstrations in recent weeks after more than two months of almost daily street clashes.
A teenager died of a gunshot wound in the latest clashes and several others were injured, bringing the death toll since April to at least 73. The dead protester was named as Fabian Urbina, 17, shot in the chest, the local mayor said, adding at least 27 others were injured.
About 10,000 protesters filled the streets and arching flyovers of the city’s east. “Day 80 of the resistance, and the people are not tired. Today, it is clear to anybody who was worried that the street had died down that it is not the case,” Freddy Guevara, a lawmaker from the opposition Popular Will party, said at the protest.
A Reuters photo showed a member of the National Guard pointing what appeared to be a pistol toward a crowd of protesters. In a separate video showing what looked like the same scene, an official appears to be firing a pistol.
Anti-government activists’ anger has been fanned by shortages of food and medicines which have coincided with a spike in infant malnutrition and mortality. “We don’t have food, we don’t have health care, we don’t have a future,” said a protester, who declined to give his name, speaking through a gas mask. “How is it possible that at 19 years old, I have to be here fighting?”
A young musician nearby played the national anthem on a clarinet, while tear gas grenades whistled past her. “We are here to show that we are not terrorists, we are only here to fight for our rights,” said the musician, who gave her name as Hazel.