Venezuelan soldiers opened fire on a group of civilians attempting to keep open a segment of the southern border with Brazil for deliveries of humanitarian aid, causing multiple injuries and the first fatalities of a massive opposition operation meant to deliver international relief to this devastated South American country, according to eyewitnesses and community leaders.
At 6:30 a.m. on Friday, a military convoy approached a checkpoint set up by an indigenous community in the southern village of Kumarakapay, on the main artery linking Venezuela to Brazil. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday ordered the closure of Venezuela’s border with Brazil.
When the volunteers sought to block the military vehicles by standing in front of them, soldiers began firing assault rifles. At least two people were killed and a dozen wounded, at least three of them seriously. The dead were named as a woman, Zorayda Rodriguez, 42, and a man, Rolando Garcia.
The Trump administration, which opposes Maduro, promptly denounced the shooting. “The United States condemns the killings, attacks, and the hundreds of arbitrary detentions that have taken place in Venezuela,” a State Department spokesman said. “We stand with the victims’ families in demanding justice and accountability.” (Vice President Pence, who is one of the administration’s most forceful Maduro critics, is scheduled to be in Colombia on Monday for a scheduled meeting of the Lima Group — a consortium of Latin American countries, plus Canada, that have called for Maduro’s ouster.)
In tweets, opposition leader Juan Guaidó — who was en route to the Colombian border — said: “In the community of Kumarakapay, 2 soldiers shot against Pemones that were at a checkpoint. The result of this crime is 12 people wounded and one dead. Our solidarity is with them. It will not go unpunished.”
- Source: www.washingtonpost.com