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More injuries in Venezuela

June 6, 2017

Almost 100 more people have been injured in clashes with police. As Venezuela's 66th day of protest came to an end, the government repeated its pledge of a constitutional referendum.

Venezuela Krise Proteste
Image: Picture alliance/Zumapress/A. Manzol

Protesters clash with security forces in Caracas

Leaders of the opposition alliance Democratic Unity Roundtable said some 100 demonstrators had been injured on Monday.

Lawmaker Juan Requesens, who was hurt along with his colleague Miguel Pizarro, said police officers teargassed, beat and even robbed demonstrators and journalists on Monday.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles even alleged that authorities had used live fire to disperse protesters. The Public Ministry remained silent on the injuries, except to announce without details that three members of the security forces had been hurt during demonstrations in Caracas on Monday. Argentina and neighboring Colombia condemned the attacks on legislators, protesters and the press.

At least 65 people - about one per day - have died and more than 1,000 have sustained injuries since early April as the government's response to protests against President Nicolas Maduro has grown increasingly violent. The protests have emerged as the country faces its most difficult economic circumstances since the emergence of the modern financial system and, with a 2014 drop in oil prices hitting the export revenues that Venezuela has come to rely on. The opposition has called for fresh elections, but Maduro has refused to step down and has accused his opponents of conspiring with foreign powers, including the United States, to bring down his government.

'It's not sufficient'

Authorities have doubled down on their pledge for a referendum on Maduro's desired constitutional changes. On Monday, Jorge Rodriguez, the speaker of Zamora 200, one of several constituent committees, which is working on the proposed changes, told journalists that officials had already submitted the request for a referendum to the national elections council. 

Luis Emilio Rondon, the electoral commission's chief rector and the only of the five members to oppose remaking the constitution, said the request for a referendum was lacking. "It's not sufficient," Rondon said late Monday.

Rondon said the election committee had not approved "the timeline, proposal or committees" to expedite an already "hasty" process. "In no way does it contribute to political participation," Rondon said on Monday.

Also on Monday, the government announced that it would ask Venezuela's supreme court to investigate the mental health of public prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz, after she distanced herself from the regime and declared her opposition to the proposed constitutional changes.

mkg/rc (EFE, dpa)