Security forces break up Venezuela protests
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan security forces backed by water tanks and tear gas dispersed student protesters from Caracas’ main highway Friday in the third straight night of anti-government demonstrations.
Some 500 protesters choked off traffic for several hours earlier in the day to demand justice for two students who were killed Wednesday during clashes with police and armed pro-government militias.
When police broke up the crowd Friday night, the students regrouped to a nearby plaza, where they burned trash and threw stones at police. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rebuked the students in a televised address and says he won’t tolerate any more disruptions on the nation’s roadways.
There were no reports of serious injuries.
The unrest followed the burial of the two students earlier in the day, as well as a third victim, a pro-government militia member, who were killed in Wednesday’s unrest. At the same time authorities began releasing the dozens of demonstrators who’ve been arrested in recent days.
In what’s become a family tradition during 15 years of socialist rule, Derrik Redman said he and his son, Robert, attended a peaceful protest of more than 10,000 anti-government demonstrators. But this time Robert didn’t come back, and later in the evening his father received a phone call that he’d been shot and killed in a standoff with police.
“As long as the protests continue I’ll still go,” Redman said while shaking his head in disbelief.
On the other side of town, in the 23rd of January slum that’s long been a government stronghold and where the late Hugo Chavez is buried, about 100 people, many with their faces covered and waving pistols, paid their final respects to Juan “Juancho” Montoya.
Montoya was killed when the pro-government vigilante group he led roared up on motorcycles to the federal prosecutor’s office where students were sparring with police. In a confusing incident, shots were fired into the crowd and Montoya and a student, Bassil D’Acosta, were killed.
As a black hearse covered in flowers winded its way through the slum’s dusty streets, an escort of more than 100 motorcycles honked their horns incessantly to shouts of “Juancho lives, the battle continues.”
AP Writers Jorge Rueda, Andrew Rosati and Joshua Goodman contributed to this report.