News ID: 191221
Published: 0938 GMT April 20, 2017

EU urges de-escalation of tension in Venezuela as more people die in protests

EU urges de-escalation of tension in Venezuela as more people die in protests

The European Union has called on the Venezuelan government and opposition to do more to establish peace in the country as violent protests for and against President Nicolas Maduro claims more lives.

"We call on all Venezuelans to come together to de-escalate the situation and find democratic solutions in the framework of the constitution," EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said Thursday, adding, "Only peaceful and constructive engagement can halt the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela and build better prospects for its people."

The statement came a day after three people were killed in escalated protests in Venezuela.

Officials said a soldier was killed overnight when a squad of National Guard forces was attacked near the capital Caracas.  A 17-year-old boy and a 23-year-old woman were also among the fatalities of the Wednesday protests. The recent deaths brought to eight the number of people killed in the fresh uptick of violence in oil-rich Venezuela, where Maduro and his supporters are under heavy pressure to quit power.

The 28-member bloc described the deaths as "highly regrettable," urging the two sides to engage in peaceful manners to calm down the situation.

"All concerned, including members of the security forces, have a responsibility to act in full compliance with the rule of law and human rights," the EU spokeswoman said.

The European Union also said that an investigation had to be launched to identify those behind the surge in violence.

"We call for an investigation into the deaths and acts of violence that occurred during the demonstrations, and for those responsible to be held accountable,” said Massrali.

Anti-government demonstrations intensified in Venezuela on April 1, after the Supreme Court decided to strip Congress of its last vestiges of power.

The court later withdrew the move but protesters pushed with calls on Maduro to leave office.

The embattled president is blamed for Venezuela’s economic woes while the opposition also censures the 54-year-old leader for what it calls his lack of tolerance for dissent.

Maduro says the Western-backed opposition has hugely capitalized on the global slump in oil prices to try to remove him from office.

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