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Escalation in Venezuela: Maduro regime fires on civilian supporters of opposition leader Guaidó, killing at least two

Maduro has been clinging to power, and blocking humanitarian aid from reaching his starving people

ORANGEL HERNANDEZ/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, Venezuelan soldiers, loyal to dictator Nicolás Maduro, opened fire on civilians, killing two of them.

What's happening in Venezuela?

Under the leadership of Maduro, the economy of Venezuela has rapidly deteriorated and inflation has skyrocketed to levels where paper money has become essentially worthless. Desperate, people have resorted to eating garbage to stay alive.

In May 2018, Maduro won re-election with 68 percent of the vote in what has been largely condemned by the international community as a fraudulent election.

Maduro has also been blocking foreign aid shipments from entering the country and helping his starving people.

What happened today?

Civilians opposed to the regime tried to block a military convoy that was heading to reinforce one of the checkpoints along the border between Venezuela and Brazil. The civilians were hoping to keep the border open in order to let much-needed supplies through.

The soldiers responded by firing into the crowd, wounding 12 people and killing two: a woman named Zorayda Rodriguez and a man named Roland Garcia. At least three of the 12 who were wounded are seriously hurt.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself to be the legal interim president according to the Venezuelan constitution, identified the dead and injured Venezuelans as belonging to the indigenous group called the Pemones. The United States recognizes Guaidó as the rightful leader of the country.

When Guaidó was first declared president, Maduro dismissed him mockingly, saying "I'm going to give you the sash, big boy, to see what you do with the country."

What else?

In a statement to the Washington Post, a State Department spokesman said that the U.S. "condemns the killings, attacks, and the hundreds of arbitrary detentions that have taken place in Venezuela," and stands "with the victims' families in demanding justice and accountability."

In a tweet, Guaidó warned Venezuelan soldiers that their actions would "define" how they would be remembered.

In 2017, Maduro used the National Guard to suppress another protest, a move that resulted in the deaths of 120 people.

One last thing…
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