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  • Ernesto Villegas reviews deaths during violent right-wing protests at a press conference in Caracas on May 22, 2017.

    Ernesto Villegas reviews deaths during violent right-wing protests at a press conference in Caracas on May 22, 2017. | Photo: AVN

Countering the narrative spread by the opposition and the international media, Villegas insisted that the state was not responsible for most of the deaths.

The majority of the people killed in violent opposition protests in Venezuela that have sought to oust President Nicolas Maduro over the past two months were not demonstrating, found a Public Ministry's report presented by the Bolivarian government Monday.

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The report — monitoring the 51 days of opposition protests, was presented by Communication Minister Ernesto Villegas, Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and the head of the Human Rights National Council, Larry Devoe at a press conference, citing a death toll nearing 60 victims.

Countering the narrative spread by the opposition and the international media, Villegas insisted that the state was not responsible for the great majority of the victims, taking into account that every life was important and that the government's priority is to ensure no more people die in the protests.

The report listed 15 people who were killed while protesting, including eight who died after being electrocuted in a community-run bakery while people were looting the El Valle district in Caracas.

Six people were killed by barricades erected at violent opposition protests, while a total of 13 people died outside of the areas of protests, including a child shot by criminals whose mother testified in a video presented at the press conference, where she also blamed opposition leaders for trying to use her son's death for political ends.

In total, seven Chavistas have been killed, four of which are believed to have been targeted assassinations, while four police officers have been killed, according to the report.

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Family members of another seven victims have declared that their loved ones were not demonstrating when they were killed in an effort to clarify contradictory reports, while another four victims were killed by unconventional weapons such as metal objects not used by police forces.

Nevertheless, the minister did not deny the existence of deaths during demonstrations; he emphasized that investigations were ongoing, and no impunity will be tolerated. However, the great majority of police officers have fulfilled their duty in an “admirable” way, he added, considering the conditions, including opposition protesters throwing their excrement in dangerous glass bottles at them constantly.

He urged the extreme right-wing sectors of the opposition to end their violence, “Political factions that have given up on politics must stop calling for violence that attempts to violently impose their agenda on the country, which is outside of the constitution,” he told reporters.

He recalled that Maduro has prohibited the use of plastic bullets by all security forces, to avoid “a potentially even greater tragedy. If any police officer is caught using any type of weapon, he or she will be prosecuted," he warned.

The situation is dangerously reminiscent of the 2002 failed coup against late President Hugo Chavez when opposition sectors deliberately tried to blame several murders on the government, he warned.


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