CARACAS, Venezuela – A university student, a National Guard captain and a third man were shot to death in separate incidents Wednesday as anti-government protests roiled the central Venezuelan city of Valencia. Three National Guardsmen and several protesters were wounded.
Two of the deaths came in the opposition-dominated Isabelica neighborhood, where residents unhappy with the scarcity of basic items and rising unemployment from the closure of some businesses in the area have protested for weeks by blocking streets and throwing rocks at police.
Carabobo state Gov. Francisco Ameliach, who supports the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro, announced via Twitter that National Guard Capt. Ramzor Ernesto Bracho also was killed in Valencia. The federal prosecutor’s office said another guardsman was wounded.
A month of student-led demonstrations in a number of Venezuelan cities has left at least 25 people dead, according to the government. Venezuelans fed up with inflation that reached 56 percent last year, long lines for buying some items at grocery stores and one of the highest homicide rates in the world have joined students in protesting against the government.
Wednesday’s death toll matched the highest single-day total exactly one month after that mark was set Feb. 12.
Maduro’s governing bloc, which easily won municipal elections in December, shows no sign of collapse. The president accuses the opposition of trying to instigate his overthrow, but his party controls the legislature and judiciary, retains the support of the military and counts as members the governors of all but three states.
In the national capital of Caracas, pro- and anti-government student groups approaching 10,000 people staged competing marches. When the larger opposition group tried to move toward the chief public defender’s office to demand his resignation, security forces blocked the way. After negotiations failed to break the impasse, some protesters hurled rocks and National Guard troops responded with water cannons and tear gas.