Burn victim from Venezuela protest dies

A burn victim has died of injuries sustained in a protest against President Nicolas Maduro, becoming the 65th fatality in more than two months of anti-government demonstrations, a prosecutor said Sunday.

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Orlando Figuera, 22, died of injuries he sustained May 20, the prosecutor’s office said on Twitter. The protests have been raging almost daily since April 1.

“He was the victim of an attack by fascists…a hate crime,” President Maduro said on his weekly TV show, blaming national assembly speaker Julio Borges, one of the leaders of the protests.

Opposition leader Henrique Carpiles said all Venezuelans wanted justice for “Orlando and all the dead and wounded. The main guilty party: Nicholas Maduro.” 

Protests were prompted by the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve parliament and transfer all legislative powers to itself, leaving the two remaining branches of the Venezuelan government in the control of President Maduro’s United Socialist Party.

The decision was reversed three days later but protests have continued, the country in the middle of a severe food shortage and economic crisis. According to a study by a group of universities, almost a third of the population eat two meals a day or fewer.

Huge protest in Caracas, Venezuela

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Protesters blame President Maduro for the country’s economic collapse as he has aligned it ever more closely with the communist-led Cuban model. The President is due to serve until January 2019.

President Maduro wants to hold elections for a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, and on Sunday he proposed July 30 as the date for voting. The proposed date must be approved by the Supreme Electoral Council.

Critics say he will stack such a body with his allies as part of ploy to cling to power.

Cuba is Caracas’ closest ally. Venezuela, used to spending its huge oil wealth freely, has seen its revenues shrink due to sharply lower crude prices.

However, President Maduro says poverty in 2016 fell from 19.7 per cent of the population to 18.3 per cent. Extreme poverty has fallen from 4.9 to 4.4 per cent.

Elected in 2013, President Maduro is resisting opposition calls for an early election to remove him. He says the crisis is a US-backed conspiracy.

The protests are believed to be the biggest in Venezuela in over a decade.

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