The majority of the 40 people who have died amid ongoing anti-government protests in Venezuela in recent weeks were not participating in the demonstrations, according to the Ministry of Communication and Information.
"The overwhelming majority of people who have lost their lives, until today, were non-demonstrators. The overwhelming majority were not participating in demonstrations, neither peaceful nor violent," said Minister Ernesto Villegas Poljak.
Villegas said an investigation is underway to provide precise information about the citizens who have died since the beginning of April, when opposing anti-government and pro-government marches began to take to the streets in near-daily protests.
"Each life counts the same as the other. It hurts us equally the life of any human being and it would hurt us if it had been a single person or the 40," Villegas said.
The minister said that the preliminary investigation has found that there have that there are more officers of the Bolivarian National Guard wounded by gunshots than the total number of fatal victims.
During the same period, there have been around 1,600 demonstrations in the country of all sizes, large and small, and from those about 500 actions have been violent.
The official said he rejected the information that international media has published about the Venezuelan government that has focused on the state crackdown on opposition protests and denied state repression.
Villegas expressed regretted that there were cases where people died from police gunfire, like the case of Jairo Ortiz. According to the official, Ortiz was walking by close to his house and was hit by a bullet from an officer's gun.
"That officer is currently in custody and paying the consequences of his actions, for violating the Constitution, for violating the law and for violating the express orders of President Nicolas Maduro to strictly respect human rights," said Villegas.