Young man is 9th fatality in Venezuela protests this month


Venezuela's political and economic crisis has engulfed General Motors, which announced Thursday it had ceased operations in the country after authorities seized its only plant there.

In San Cristobal in Tachira state on the Colombian border, 24-year-old Paola Ramirez was shot dead by a gunman on a motorcycle in the town's San Carlos square - where she took refuge from rioting four blocks away. "I'm ready to take to the streets every day if I have to", said 22-year-old student Aquiles Aldazoro. Under the late Hugo Chavez, Venezuela seized some Exxon Mobil assets.

An anti-government protester runs with a canister of tear gas fired by police in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

A number of major Latin American governments, including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, called on Venezuela to take steps to increase democratic order and halt the violence that has been swirling around the protests.

"By several media accounts, hundreds of thousands of anti-Maduro demonstrators flooded city streets to protest bread scarcity, ballooning inflation - which several estimates peg at triple digits - and what they see as an increasingly dictatorial regime". Wearing just sneakers and tube socks, he approached heavily armed police in gas masks.

"It fits a broader pattern, in the sense that the government's response to surges in opposition activity tends to be the deepening of the revolution", said Phil Gunson, a Venezuela-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, using the government's term for its socialist makeover of Venezuelan society. "We ask Pope Francis to do for Venezuela what Pope John Paul II did for Poland", Father Jose Palmar told The Guardian.

"People are sick of this. we've touched rock bottom".

The European Union added to the condemnation, calling the deaths of protesters "highly regrettable" and urging all sides to "de-escalate". Maduro's camp said a soldier outside Caracas was also killed.

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Furthermore, political tensions in Venezuela have erupted in violent demonstrations, which have reportedly deteriorated into several confrontations between protesters and security personnel.

The protests culminated in the April 19 slayings of three people. "Given the situation in Venezuela these days, it would be really hard to find another job like the one I am doing here at this plant".

Across the country, clashes have been intense as protests grow in size and fervour. "GMV strongly rejects the arbitrary measures taken by the authorities", read a statement from the manufacturer, "and will vigorously take all legal actions, within and outside of Venezuela, to defend its rights".

Those struggles have been exacerbated by the country's repeated confiscation of foreign assets, with roughly 25 corporations now fighting Venezuela's government before a World Bank panel over such seizures.

The neglected factory has not produced a vehicle since 2015, but GM still has 79 dealers that employ 3,900 people in Venezuela, where for decades it was the market leader.

The chief prosecutor's office reported Thursday that a National Guard sergeant was killed and a colonel injured when their squad was attacked with gunfire while trying to control disturbances in a city near Caracas.

Mr Moreno reportedly died in hospital. Pro-government militias, some of whose members were armed, were blamed for the two deaths, including that of a teenager in Caracas who was heading to a soccer game with friends.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed concerns to reporters Wednesday that the "government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people".