Venezuela’s defense minister is urging the country’s national guardsmen to refrain from using excessive force as they confront protesters after more than two months of anti-government demonstrations. Speaking at a military event Tuesday, Vladimir Padrino Lopez said he didn’t want to see “one more national guardsman committing an atrocity on the street.”
The police and national guard have drawn international condemnation for their heavy use of tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators. Nearly 70 people have died in the political unrest, which has seen hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans take to the streets demanding new elections.
The defense minister’s remarks come as opposition leaders are accusing national guardsmen of attacking protesters. Demonstrators on Monday charged that guardsmen had robbed protesters and journalists of possessions, including cameras and even shoes.