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Death Toll in Venezuela Protests since April Reaches 100 amid Mounting Int’l Fears | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Opposition activists use makeshift shields as they clash with the police during the “Towards Victory” protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on June 10, 2017. Federico Parra / AFP

The death toll in anti-government protests in Venezuela since April has reached 100, after a third death was reported from a day-long nationwide strike against embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s rule, prosecutors said Friday, raising more international fears over the growing unrest.

A 15-year-old boy was killed in skirmishes on the sidelines of Thursday’s national strike in the western state of Zulia, they said, without explaining the circumstances of his death.

Venezuela is in the throes of a political and economic crisis that has led to shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation. Protesters are now contesting Maduro’s plans to rewrite the country’s constitution.

On Thursday, businesses were shuttered, public transport stalled and streets were often deserted in areas affected by the stoppage in the capital and elsewhere, including the country’s second-biggest city of Maracaibo.

Riot police and soldiers fired tear gas and buck shot at protesters, who blocked streets with debris in parts of Caracas and set a police booth on fire. Street blockades continued overnight.

Earlier, prosecutors said a 24-year-old man was killed on the outskirts of Caracas and a 23-year-old man was killed in the city of Valencia.

Maduro is under fire over plans for a July 30 election of a citizens’ body — a “Constituent Assembly” — to rewrite the constitution.

Critics see it as a power grab.

US President Donald Trump has warned of unspecified “swift economic actions” if the vote goes ahead.

The United Nations, European Union, Organization of American States, the Catholic Church and most of Latin America’s major countries are all urging Maduro to shelve his plans and open dialogue.

So far, however, there is no sign Maduro and his government will change the path they have set themselves.