Wed, Mar 26, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Pregnant woman, soldier killed amid Venezuela unrest

AP, CARACAS

A pregnant woman shot in the head and a Venezuelan National Guard soldier fired on as he tried to clear a roadway have become the latest fatalities in violence tied to anti-government protests in Venezuela, authorities said on Monday.

Adriana Urquiola, 28, died in Guaicaipuro municipality on Sunday night, Guaicaipuro Mayor Francisco Garces said.

Five months pregnant, Urquiola was shot after she left a bus that was stuck in traffic because of a barricade built by anti-government protesters. She had been walking toward the road block when she was shot, but did not appear to have been participating in the protest.

The National Guard member, Sergeant Miguel Antonio Parra, died on Monday during a street demonstration in the southwestern city of Merida, according to Merida Mayor Carlos Garcia.

The opposition politician said Parra was shot when he and two other National Guard soldiers were trying to clear the roadways and were confronted by protesters.

The series of protests against the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government began five weeks ago, less than a year after he succeeded late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and the ensuing violence has claimed at least 32 lives.

As the death toll of the protests continued to rise, so did the political fallout, with the head of the nation’s congress announcing that a top opposition politician had lost her seat and is no longer immune from prosecution for allegedly fomenting violence in the protests.

Venezuelan Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado had violated the country’s constitution by addressing the Organization of American States last week at the invitation of Panama, which ceded its seat at the group so she could provide regional diplomats with a first-hand account of the unrest.

Maduro referred to Machado as an “ex-congresswoman” on Saturday, a few days after arresting two opposition mayors for allegedly conspiring with the US to topple his 11-month-old administration.

In Lima, Peru, where she was attending a conference organized by the International Foundation for Liberty, Machado addressed the situation, telling reporters on Monday: “I know very well what my duties and rights are, and I’ll keep fighting and working as a deputy of the National Assembly during these terrible hours through which Venezuela is passing.”

She added that Cabello’s actions “give us more strength and more reasons to continue the fight” and that she intends to return to Venezuela as soon as possible.

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