A local beauty queen died of a gunshot wound on Wednesday, the fifth fatality from Venezuela’s political unrest, as imprisoned protest leader Leopoldo Lopez urged supporters to keep fighting for the departure of the socialist government.
Tensions have risen in Venezuela since Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist, turned himself in to troops on Tuesday after spearheading three weeks of often rowdy protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government. The latest victims of the unrest included college student and model Genesis Carmona, 22, who was shot in the head at a protest on Tuesday in the central city of Valencia. She died later in a clinic.
“How long are we going to live like this? How long do we have to tolerate this pressure, with them killing us?” a relative, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. “She only needed one more semester to graduate,” he added of Carmona, who had been studying tourism and had won the 2013 Miss Tourism competition in her state.
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Three people were shot dead in Caracas after an opposition rally a week ago, and a fourth person died after being run over by a car during a demonstration in the coastal town of Carupano. Scores of people have been arrested or injured.
State television channel VTV said the mother of one its employees died while being rushed to hospital in Caracas. VTV said she suffered a heart attack while the ambulance carrying her was stuck in gridlock due to opposition supporters blocking roads. “We cannot underestimate those fascist groups whose boss is behind bars,” Maduro said in a nationally televised speech late on Wednesday. “I’m not playing with democracy. I do not accept that they challenge the Venezuelan people and our Constitution.”