Trump threatens ‘military option’ in Venezuela as crisis escalates

In a surprise intervention, Donald Trump said he would not rule in employing military force as the country descends further into civil unrest

Donald Trump threatened a US military intervention in Venezuela on Friday, a dramatic escalation in his administrations stance toward the Latin American country which is descending into political chaos.

Trump stimulated the statements in response to questions from reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Asked what options were available for the US in dealing with Venezuela, which has descended into civil unrest under the direction of chairwoman Nichols Maduro, Trump responded by explicitly not ruling out military force.

We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, Im not going to rule out a military alternative, he said.

We have many options for Venezuela, this is our neighbour, Trump added. Were all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very very far away, Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and succumbing. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military alternative if necessary.

Vladimir Padrino, Venezuelas defence minister, said on Friday night that Trumps threat was an act of craziness and supreme extremism.

General Vladimir Padrino, a close ally of Maduro, said: With this radical upper-class thats in charge in the US, who knows what will happen to the world?

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted: Perhaps since[ Hugo] Chvez named him his successor , no one had helped Maduro as much as Trump and this nonsense he said today.

The White House released a statement saying it had repudiated a request from Maduro to speak by phone with Trump. The statement said: Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as republic is restored in that country.

The surprise intervention caps a week of increasingly bellicose rhetoric directed at North Korea.

Venezuela has appeared to slide toward a more volatile stage of unrest in recent days, with anti-government forces-out looting weapons from the military after the installation of an all-powerful new legislative body.

Donald
Donald Trump speaks to the press from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Photograph: Jim Watson/ AFP/ Getty Images

When a reporter followed up to ask Trump if this military alternative would be US led, the president responded: We dont talking here it. A military operation, a military option is surely something that we could pursue.

The remarks come as Maduro has convened a constituent assembly, in an electoral widely denounced by international observers, to amend the countrys constitution to cement his grip on power. Maduro has also forced the countrys chief prosecutor from office, while the United Nation has condemned the governmental forces employ of excessive force against protestors.

Although Venezuela has the worlds largest proven oil reserves, its economy has collapsed in recent years as the country led first by the late Hugo Chvez and then by his successor, Maduro, has resorted to increasingly authoritarian measures to consolidate power.

Peru expelled Venezuelas ambassador on Friday as regional pressure built on Maduros government. Venezuela retaliated by ordering the head of Perus embassy in Caracas to leave and called Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski an enemy of Venezuela and of Latin American unity.

Trumps remarks come in the shadow of a 2002 coup try against Chvez that he blamed on the US. The coup was launched after a violent showdown between marchers in support of a general strike clashed with government forces.

Associated Press contributed to this report .

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Not so fast: Despacito singers tell Nicols Maduro to stop using remixed song

Venezuelan chairpeople attempt to co-opt the global hit for political purposes backfires with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee calling the use illegal

Venezuelan president Nicols Maduros attempt to use Latin reached Despacito – which means slowly to inject some cool into his controversial new congress has backfired quickly.

Maduros unpopular leftist government on Sunday promoted a remixed version of Despacito to encourage Venezuelans to vote for the Constituent Assembly, which will have powers to rewrite “the member states national” charter and supplant other institutions.

Our call to the Constituent Assembly only seeks to unite the country … Despacito! runs the Socialist Party-sanctioned remix of the catchy dance sung, which was played during Maduros weekly televised show.

What do you think, eh? Is this video approved? a grinning and clapping Maduro called out to the crowd, which roared back in approval.

But Puerto Rican singers Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee on Monday said they do not approve at all.

At no phase was I asked , nor did I permit, the use or the altered in lyrics of Despacito for political ambitions, and much less in the middle of a deplorable situation that Venezuela, a country I love so much, is living, Fonsi said in a message posted on Twitter.

Daddy Yankee, meanwhile, posted a picture of Maduro with a big red cross over it on Instagram.

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That you illegally appropriate a anthem( Despacito) does not compare with the crimes you commit and have committed in Venezuela. Your dictatorial regime is a gag , not only for my Venezuelan brother, but for the entire world, he said.

With this nefarious marketing plan, you merely highlight your fascist ideal.

Millions of Venezuelans have been staging months of protests against Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader narrowly elected to replace the late Hugo Chavez in 2013.

Some 100 people have died in the unrest, which has further hammered an imploding economy that is running short of food and medicine.

Critics tell Maduro is trying to cement a tyranny by pushing forward with the Constituent Assembly this Sunday. He tells it is the only way to bringing peace back to the convulsed nation.

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‘I will be back’: Violin-playing face of Venezuela’s protests injured in clashes

Wuilly Arteaga posts defiant video message from hospital bed as opposition announces fresh national strikes

Venezuelas opposition announced a two-day national strike against President Nicolas Maduro after a day of violent clashes in Caracas on Saturday where the injured included a violinist who has become the face of the protests.

Neither rubber bullets nor pellets will stop our fight for Venezuelas independence, told musician Wuilly Arteaga. The 23 -year-old has become famous in Venezuela for playing the national anthem and other tunes on his violin in front of security lines as battles rage around him. Tomorrow I will be back in the streets.

The opponent Democratic Coalition which organised a 24-hour shutdown this week that was heeded by millions and paralysed big swaths of the South American nation said the next strike would be on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mass processions have been planned for Monday and Friday in an attempt to force Maduro into aborting a controversial a vote on 30 July to elect a constituent assembly charged with rewriting the constitution.

WuillyMoissArteaga (@ WuillyArteaga)

( Video) Ni PERDIGONES NI METRAS nos detendrn de seguir luchando hasta lograr la INDEPENDENCIA DE VENEZUELA. Maana vuelvo a las CALLES … pic.twitter.com/ aZHnmv7Hgt

July 22, 2017

Opposition and human rights groups say the move is aimed at bypassing the National Assembly, which has been under opposition control since 2016, further consolidating the ruling Socialist partys grip on power. Maduro argues a new constitution would promote dialogue in a country deeply polarised and crippled by widespread shortages of food, medication and basic services, and unbridled violent crime.

On Saturday, several thousand protesters sought to march on the pro-Maduro supreme court in support of alternative magistrates appointed by the opponent on Friday. Security forces-out blocked them with armored autoes and riot shields. Clashes ensued for several hours as hundreds of masked youths hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at National Guard troops firing tear gas from motorcycles.

The injured included Arteaga, who was treated by paramedics in the street as blood poured down his face. He afterwards tweeted a video from hospital with a bandaged face, still clutching his violin.

More than 100 people have died and thousands more have been injured in anti-government unrest since demonstrations began in April.

Opposition lawmaker Simon Calzadilla told at a press conference flanked by other alliance officials: The Venezuelan people are not giving up, they are valiant, they will come out to defend republic and the constitution.

Foes accuse Maduro of turning Venezuela into a totalitarianism and wrecking what should be a prosperous economy. They want free elections and an end to two decades of socialist rule.

Maduro calls himself a flag bearer for the international left, up against right-wing terrorists attempting a coup with the connivance of the US and the international media.

The opposition is stepping up street tactics in what it dubs zero hour for Venezuela to try to block the new Constitutional Assembly Maduro wants to set up.

The opponent is boycotting the vote, calling it a sham and demanding conventional elections instead.

The Constituent Assembly, whose election rules appear designed to guarantee a majority for the government even though it has minority popular support, could rewrite the constitution and disband the existing opposition-led legislature.

Opposition
Opposition protesters clash with Venezuela security forces in Caracas on Saturday. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/ EPA

At rival pro-government rallies on Saturday, nominees for the Constituent Assembly said it was the only route to bring peace to Venezuela. We are not going to let them destroy our fatherland, said Delcy Rodriguez, who left her post as foreign minister to stand for the new congress.

All of us united are going to tell the right wing Weve had enough of terrorism, Maduros wife Cilia Flores, also running for an assembly post, told the same rally in Caracas.

Also on Saturday, the governments intelligence service apprehended Angel Zerpa, one of 13 swears in as supreme court magistrates by the opposition in defiance of the government, opposition leaders said.

Authorities have threatened to arrest all the opposition-named magistrates and try them in military courts.

International pressure has been growing on Maduro to abandon next weekends referendum, including security threats from US President Donald Trump to apply economic sanctions.

But the government is showing no sign of backing down, announcing that it will put 232,000 soldiers on the street to ensure the Constituent Assembly goes ahead.

On Saturday, National Guard forces could be seen firing tear gas canisters horizontally at demonstrators in contravention of international norms, witnesses said. The repression has been brutal and the world has to understand what we are living through in the streets of Venezuela, opposition leader Mara Corina Machado said. Its criminal.

Reuters contributed to this report

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Venezuela protests: woman shot dead as thousands vote in unofficial referendum

President Nicolas Maduro denounces vote as illegal as activists tell gunmen fired on crowd of protesters

Gunmen in Venezuela shoot into a crowd of voters on Sunday, activists said, killing one woman and wounding three others during an unofficial referendum organised by the opposition to push for an end to two decades of socialist rule.

The opponent Democratic Unity coalition said a pro-government paramilitary gang opened fire in Caracas poor neighborhood of Catia, where thousands were participating in the event. Video footage showed people scattering as gunshots rang out, many taking sanctuary inside a church.

The day was stained by the killing of a Venezuelan woman who was protesting and exercising her rights, said opposition leader Freddy Guevara of the killing of Xiomara Escot. But violence cannot conceal what has happened. The people are not afraid and are clear in their decision.

Sundays symbolic poll, which asked voters opinion on President Nicolas Maduros plan for a controversial new congress, was aimed at denting his legitimacy further amid a crippling economic crisis and months of anti-government protests in which 100 people have been killed.

Maduro, 54, has denounced the plebiscite as illegal and meaningless. Instead, the former bus driver and union leader is campaigning for an official vote on 30 July in support of the proposed new assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.

The opponent casting Sundays unofficial referendum as an act of civil disobedience that will be followed by zero hour, a possible including references to their own nationals strike or other action against the president.

Volunteers
Volunteers count the ballots during an opposition-organized referendum to measure public is supportive of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/ AFP/ Getty Images

Lines formed early at makeshift polling stations at theaters, sports fields, and traffic circles in the oil-rich nation of 30 million as Venezuelans furious over food shortages and rampant inflation sought to make their voices heard.

There was a festive atmosphere under the Caribbean sun in most places, with people blasting music, honking car horns, waving Venezuelan flags, and chanting Yes we can! More than five million people had cast ballots at 2,000 centres, the opposition told, as voting was extended into early evening so everyone waiting in line could have their say.

Maduro has done everything very badly, and now, via a fraudulent constituent assembly, he wants to gain time, but his time is up, told shopkeeper Rafael Betancourt, voting in late leftist leader Hugo Chavezs home state of Barinas, which has switched to the opposition.

This is the proof that the people will kick out whoever submits us to hunger and despair, he added, as hundreds waited to cast their ballot.

Crowds gathered to vote in other former Chavista strongholds too, such as the slums of Caracas.

Despite a strong turnout, the opponent referendum does not appear to augur a short-term change of government or a solution to the countrys political stalemate.

Voter were asked if they repudiated the proposed new assembly, whether they wanted the armed forces to defend the existing constitution, and if they wanted elections before Maduros term in office ends in 2018.

The referendum also included participation by swelling ranks of Venezuelans who have moved abroad, from Miami to Madrid, to escape the Opec nations dire economy.

Some public employees in Venezuela, under government pressure not to participate in opposition events, sought creative ways to vote without being noticed, such as traveling across town or even going in disguise.

The opposition had promised outcomes by Sunday evening.

But they are not able to use the countrys electoral infrastructure for the hastily convened vote. The elections council which the opposition calls a pawn of Maduro was simultaneously holding a test-run for the 30 July vote.

State telecommunications regulator Conatel ordered radio and Tv stations not to use the word plebiscite on air and told them to pull opposition ads for the vote, according to Venezuelas main organisation of media workers.

There is likewise lines for the 30 July test run in Caracas on Sunday, though the mood was notably more subdued than at the opposition polling stations. We poor are going to be represented now, said retirement home worker Iraiz Alfonzo, 45, as she stood in line for the assembly vote test run.

In a phone call to state Tv, Maduro recognise the opposition event but called it an internal consultation.

I exhort the opposition: Dont go crazy, calm down. As president of the republic, I make a call for peace, he said.

Sundays referendum came against the backdrop of near daily anti-government protests. Masked youths with stones, Molotov cocktails and homemade mortars have battled riot forces employing tear gas, water guns and rubber bullets since April.

The unrest has resulted in the deaths of both demonstrators, government supporters and security forces, largely from gunshots, as well as hundreds of apprehends and thousands of injuries.

Maduro has refused to recognise the authorities concerned of the National Assembly since the opponent won control of it in a 2015 landslide election, which his critics call evidence he is eroding democratic institutions in order to retain power.

He says the country is the victim of an economic war and that opponent protests are an effort to overthrow him with US connivance, an accusation the United States has denied.

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Venezuela’s supreme court attacked with grenade from police helicopter

President Nicols Maduro says grenade lobbed by terrorists did not explosion in incident following months of increasing violence against government

Venezuelas President Nicols Maduro has confirmed that two hand grenades were launched at the supreme court building on Tuesday evening from a helicopter. He said the helicopter was piloted by an agent from the countrys intelligence division who then managed to escape.

Videos circulated on social media presented a man piloting the helicopter while holding a banner that read Liberty. Article 350, in reference to an article in the Venezuelan constitution that allows for citizens to declare themselves in civil disobedience in front of any regime that runs counter to democratic assures or undermines human rights.

The incident took place merely hours after Maduro warned that he and his supporters would be willing to take up arms if his government was toppled by undemocratic forces.

Local media quoted witness accounts describing what they said had voiced like an exchange of fire between guards at the supreme court house and the helicopter. Maduro referred to the incident as an acts of terrorism, and called on his supporters to activate a new stage in the revolution should anything happen to him.

Maduro, speaking on state Tv, said the grenades did not explode and Venezuelan special forces were searching for the terrorists behind the attack.

The helicopter had also flown over the ministry of internal affairs, Maduro told, adding: I demand that the MUD[ opposition alliance] denounces this eminently coup-mongering assault It could have caused a misfortune with several dozen dead and injured.

According to Venezuelan daily El Nacional, the man who piloted the helicopter is Oscar Prez, a former captain in the CICPC, Venezuelas intelligence and investigative body. In a video released on social media, Prez speaks directly to a camera flanked by four masked men exerting what appear to be assault rifles.

Venezuelans, dear friends, we talk to you on behalf of the state. We are a alliance of military, police and civilians in search of an equilibrium and against this transitory, criminal government, Prez said. We have two selections: be judged tomorrow by our conscience and the people or begin today to free ourselves from this corrupt government.

Perez claims to have no political affiliation. In a second video, he pointed to a purple ribbon tied around his left limb and says his allegiance is to the truth and to Christ. According to his Instagram profile, Perez is a crime divisions researcher, a pilot and a K9 instructor.

Venezuelan
Venezuelan authorities inspect the area around the supreme court after the helicopter attack. Photograph: Miguel Gutierrez/ EPA

Opposition activists have been staging unrelenting protests against a government they accuse of chronic mismanagement and increasingly authoritarian behaviour. The once-prosperous oil-producing country has suffered from rocketing inflation and spiralling crime rates.

The pro-government supreme court is especially detested by Maduros opponents for its string of rulings bolstering his power and undermining the opposition-controlled legislature.

Earlier on Tuesday, at a rally to promote a 30 July vote for a constituent assembly, Maduro said he would fight to defend the Bolivarian revolution of his predecessor Hugo Chvez.

If Venezuela was plunged into chaos and violence and the Bolivarian revolution destroyed, we would go to combat. We would never give up, and what we failed to achieve with referendums, we would do with weapons. We would liberate the fatherland with weapons.

His commentaries, which were broadcast live to the country, came after one of the worst outbreaks of looting in three months of deadly protests. Some 68 businesses, including supermarkets, liquor stores, bakeries and food shops were ransacked in a wave of lawlessness that has been initiated Monday night in the city of Maracay, 100 km west of Caracas, and continued well into Tuesday afternoon.

Videos circulating on social media presented at the least a dozen supermarkets being plundered by looters. The headquarters of the governing party, the PSUV, was also reportedly burnt.

More than 80 people have died since the conflicts began in early April, but Monday nights violence marked the first time that street conflicts have spread into more generalised anarchy.

Maduro, who accuses protesters of being terrorists trying to wage a US-backed takeover attempt against his government, is pushing for a constituent assembly that would redraft the countrys constitution. The move has been rejected by both the opposition and by a growing number of protesters from within his own party.

On Tuesday, Maduro said the demolition of Venezuela would unleash a refugee wave dwarfing the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Listen, President Donald Trump, he told. You have the responsibility: stop the madness of the violent Venezuelan right wing.

Julio Borges, head of the opposition-led national assembly just said that Maduros statement could not be taken lightly.

It is the clearest acknowledgment that Venezuela lives a tyranny that intends to impose itself against the democratic spirit through a constituent assembly that will only deepen the social, political and humanitarian crisis that affects the country.

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Venezuela’s opposition accuses security forces of robbing protesters

One video demonstrates four police officer surrounding a woman who is reeling from the effects of teargas, with one pulling a watch from her wrist

Venezuelan opposition leaders have accused security force of assaulting and robbing demonstrators who take part in protests against President Nicols Maduro .

Two videos distributed over social networks appear to show police and troops taking protesters possessions during rallies on Monday, spurring outrage among many Venezuelans who already complain there has been excessive use of force in response to the two months of protests.

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Opposition legislators on Tuesday filed a complaint with the state prosecutors office against the police and the National Guard in relation to the alleged robberies.

Reuters could not independently confirm the content of the videos. The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[ Interior pastor] Nestor Reverol devotes them licence to steal, told a legislator, Juan Matheus, adding that the complaint includes accusations of cruel and inhumane treatment.

One video shows four police officer surrounding a woman who is reeling from the effects of teargas, with one pulling what appears to be a watch from her wrist. In another, troops take a protesters helmet and handbag before boarding motorcycles.

The government tells it is fighting opposition terrorist cells trying to overthrow Maduro. They say the effort is similar to a 2002 takeover that briefly deposed late socialist leader Hugo Chvez , noting that protesters routinely interrupt traffic and damage public property while mounting barricades of burning debris.

Legislators said during Tuesdays congressional session that they had registered 16 assaults against journalists on Monday alone, with some 300 during the two months of protest. Ruling Socialist party legislators did not attend the congressional session.

Francisco Zambrano, a journalist with the website Runrun.es which is critical of the government, said in a telephone interview that troops had blocked his route when he attempted to run from a cloud of teargas fired to scatter demonstrators.

I identified myself as a journalist, but they still opened my suitcase, threw my things to the ground and searched my pockets, Zambrano told. I thought it was a regular procedure until they took out my cell phone and one of them kept it.

The information minister, Ernesto Villegas, asked on Monday about troops who hurled a television camera off a highway, said the National Guard as an institution was being unfairly held responsible for actions by individuals.

I know and have worked with men and women of the National Guard, who the hell is honorable and are out there risking their lives, he said during a broadcasted interview. They have also been the victim of aggression.

The protests have left some 65 people dead and thousands injured.

The government is preparing an electoral at the end of July for a constituent assembly that will have the power to revision the constitution and potential dissolve state institutions. Maduros critics call it a power grab meant to keep him in power indefinitely.

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Venezuela: man set on fire during anti-government protests

President Nicols Maduro claims victim was a Chavista but witnesses say the man was assaulted after being accused of being a thief

Venezuelas President Nicols Maduro has excoriated opponent protesters on Sunday for setting a human on fire during a demo, accusing them of targeting him for being pro-government.

A person was set on fire, beaten up, stabbed … They virtually lynched him, only because he screamed out that he was a Chavista, Maduro said, referring to the ruling socialist motion set up by his predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Witnesses to the incident on Saturday afternoon, including a Reuters photographer, said the crowd had accused “the mens” of being a thief.

About 100 people, who had been participating in anti-Maduro protests, surrounded him, doused him in gasoline and set him alight in Plaza Altamira in east Caracas, the witness said.

Though some in the crowd said he should die, others helped him and the man survived.

Proving a video of the incident on country Tv, Maduro identified “the mens” as Orlando Figuera, 21, saying he was being treated in hospital for severe burns.

Images from the scene showed him running near-naked with flames on his back.

Burning a person because he seems a Chavista is a hate crime and a crime against humanity, Maduro said on his weekly Tv program, also proving another video of someone being beaten up, as well as images of protesters throwing Molotov cocktails.

The 54 -year-old president said protesters are seeking a violent coup against him with US help, and are increasingly persecuting Chavistas at home and abroad.

Earlier this week, he compared it to the Nazi treatment of Jews.

Venezuela is facing … a takeover motion that has turned into hatred and intolerance, very similar to Nazi fascism, he reiterated on Sunday.

Venezuelas opposition tells Maduro has become a dictator, wrecked the Opec nations economy, caused desperation by frustrating an election exit to the political crisis, and unleashed repression and torturing on protesters.

Maduro, Murderer! can be seen daubed on roads and walls in many parts of Caracas.

The main demand of opponents, who now have majority support after years in the shadow of the ruling Socialist Party, is for a national vote.

But authorities blocked an opponent push for a referendum last year, delayed country elections, and are defying calls to bring forward the next presidential election scheduled for late 2019.

Most opposition marchings are now turning violent when security forces block their way, with masked youths from a self-styled Resistance movement hurling stones and petrol bombs at lines of National Guard troops who use teargas and water cannons to turn them back.

Even before the most recent spasm of political upheaval, Venezuela was already one of the worlds most violent countries, with an average last year of 60 homicides per day, according to the government.

Lynchings have become commonplace, killing about person or persons every three days.

In six weeks of anti-Maduro unrest, at the least 47 people have died, including supporters of both sides, some bystanders, and members of the security forces.

Both sides speedily publicise and denounce violence from the other side, while often underplaying wrongdoing within their own ranks.

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Venezuelan government sends troops to border state to stop looting and violence

Shops and business in Tchira state capital San Cristobal, a hotspot of anti-government radicalism, guarded by soldiers as unrest continues

Venezuelas government has announced that it is sending 2,000 soldiers to a border state that is a hotspot of anti-government radicalism after a night of looting in which one 15 -year-old died as political upheaval rumbled on in the volatile nation.

Most shops and business in San Cristbal, capital of Tchira state on the Colombian perimeter, were closed and guarded by soldiers on Wednesday, though looting continued in some poorer sectors, residents said.

People made off with items including coffee, diapers, and cooking petroleum in a country where a brutal economic crisis has attained basic foods and medicine vanish from shelves.

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Barricades of litter, vehicle tires, and sand littered the street, as daily life broke down in the city that was also a hotspot during the 2014 wave of upheaval against leftist President Nicols Maduro.

Hundreds of thousands of people have come onto the streets across Venezuela since early April to demand elections, liberty for jailed activists, foreign aid and freedom for the opposition-led legislature.

Maduros government accuses them of attempting a violent coup and tells many of the protesters are no more than terrorists. State oil company PDVSA also blamed roadblocks for pockets of gasoline shortages in the country on Wednesday.

In Tachira, adolescent Jose Francisco Guerrero was shot dead during the spate of looting, his relatives told. My mama sent my brother yesterday to buy flour for dinner and a little while afterwards, we received a bellow saying hed been injured by a bullet, said his sister Maria Contreras, waiting for his body to be brought to a San Cristobal morgue.

The state prosecutors office corroborated his death, which would push the death toll in unrest to at least 43, equal to that of the 2014 protests.

With international pressure against Venezuelas government mounting, the United Nations Security Council turned its attention to the countrys crisis for the first time on Wednesday.

The intent of this briefing was to make sure everyone is aware of the situation … were not looking for security council action, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters after the session.

The international community needs to say: respect the human rights of your people or this is going to go in the direction weve assured so many others go. We have been down this road with Syria, with North Korea, with South Sudan, with Burundi, with Burma.

Venezuelas UN envoy Rafael Ramirez in turn accused the United States of seeking to topple the Maduro government. The US meddling stimulates the action of violent groupings of Venezuela, he told, showing photos of vandalism and violence he told is a consequence of opposition supporters.

Venezuelans living abroad, many of whom fled the countrys economic chaos, have in recent weeks accosted visiting state officials and their family members.

Maduro on Tuesday likened that harassment to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis.

We are the new Jews of the 21 st century that Hitler pursued, Maduro said during the cabinet meeting. We dont carry the yellow Star of david we carry red hearts that are filled with desire to fight for human dignity. And we are going to defeat them, these 21 st-century Nazis.

The German Nazis and their collaborators persecuted and killed six million Jews in the Holocaust during the 1930 s and 1940 s.

Social media has for weeks buzzed with videos of Venezuelan emigrs in countries from Australia to the United States hollering insults at public officials and in some cases family members in public places.

Maduros critics say it is outrageous for officials to spend money on foreign travelling when people are struggling to obtain food and children are dying for lack of basic medicines.

But some opposition sympathizers say such mob-like harassment is the wrong way to confront the government.

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