Venezuela death toll continues to rise as protests enter fourth week

At least two more people reportedly died on Monday, taking the death toll to 23 since anti-government protests erupted across Venezuela at the beginning of April. Protesters have staged sit-ins on roads and highways across the country.

Among those killed was a local government worker who was shot dead at a pro-government counter protest in the Andean state of Merida. Reports from the opposition party suggested that another person was killed during a rally in the western agricultural state of Barinas.

"Peaceful protests across the country will continue until Mr Maduro respects the constitution and ends his internal coup," Henrique Capriles, the would-be opposition candidate who was disqualified from public office, tweeted on Monday. "If there is no answer from Maduro's corrupt drug-trafficking leadership, at the end of the day we will announce further action."

Monday's protests saw tens of thousands march along Caracas' main highway, disrupting one of the main traffic arteries into the city. The main highway was transformed into a plaza of sorts, as demonstrators sprawled in lawn chairs, enjoyed picnics and played cards. Staged sit-ins also took place across all of Venezuela's 23 states.

Protestor Juan Carlos Bautista said that he passed the afternoon playing dominos. "We want to be free. I'm here fighting for my children and my children's children," he said.

More than 1,400 people have been arrested throughout Venezuela since protests erupted in early April, according to the local rights group Penal Forum. Of those, 636 were still detained as of Monday.

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