The governments of 11 Latin American nations released a statement in the wake of six reported deaths during anti-government protests in Venezuela and called for avoiding “any violent action” on the day of demonstrations called for April 19, the Colombian Foreign Ministry announced.
“We express our profound regret and rejection of the deaths of six citizens within the framework of the days of protests that took place in ... Venezuela in recent days, and we express our solidarity and condolences to their relatives,” the group of countries said in their joint statement released Monday.
The declaration was sponsored by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay - all nations who endorsed a motion against Venezuela at a controversial meeting at the Organization of American States.
Since the beginning of April, opposition leaders have been leading anti-government demonstrations calling for the ouster of the country's Supreme Court judges as well as President Nicolas Maduro. According to reports, those killed in the ensuing violence include a 13-year-old boy who was shot Wednesday when opposition protesters entered a social housing complex and an 83-year-old woman who was not able to receive medical attention due to opposition roadblocks.
Two police officers involved in the deaths of two opposition protestors, Jairo Ortiz and Daniel Queliz, are under arrest and face charges.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez slammed the statement, calling it a "gross interference" in the country's affairs.
Opposition protesters have vandalized various areas in Caracas in recent days causing economic damage estimated at around 50 billion bolivars, President Maduro announced Sunday. Among other damages, a high school, a community health center, various subsidized food markets, and several government ministries have reportedly been severely affected.
The group of nations, who called on the government of “guarantee the right to peaceful demonstration, as the Venezuelan Constitution sets forth,” also called on the opposition to “exercise your right to demonstrate with responsibility, thus achieving a peaceful day where the people express themselves calmly.”
The opposition MUD alliance called for a "Mega March" protest in Caracas on Wednesday. Right-wing leaders have estimated a large turnout, and officials fear that there could be violence should they attempt to redirect marches to areas where pro-government demonstrators will be gathered.
Socialist legislator Diosdado Cabello also stated that Chavista supporters will convene a “historic march,” with tens of thousands expected.