Venezuela using excessive force to crush protests

Venezuela using excessive force to crush protests

Earlier Tuesday, Venezuela's pro-government Supreme Court sentenced a Caracas-area mayor at the center of recent protests to 15 months in prison for not following an order to remove barricades set up during anti-government demonstrations.

The dire economic situation also has stirred deep bitterness as people struggle with skyrocketing inflation and shortages of food and medicine.

"Witness accounts suggest that security forces, mainly the National Guard, the National Police and local police forces, have systematically used disproportionate force to instil fear, crush dissent, and to prevent demonstrators from assembling, rallying and reaching public institutions to present petitions", the rights office said in a statement.

"At this critical time", the Secretary-General urged the Venezuelan Government and the opposition to relaunch negotiations for the benefit of the country's people, said the statement, adding that Mr. Guterres is strongly supporting the ongoing efforts of the global facilitators and regional actors who are seeking to contribute to this end.

The Assembly also created a Truth Commission with plenipotentiary power to ensure justice to victims of violence during the wave of protests against the government that have left at least 120 dead since April.

Major Latin American nations have rejected the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly, and South American nations have indefinitely suspended Venezuela from the Mercosur trading bloc for breaking "democratic order".

Peru was urging that Maduro's government be condemned for carrying out "a new form of coup d'etat" through the "unconstitutional" Constituent Assembly, that political prisoners in Venezuela be freed, and that the country hold scheduled elections, diplomatic sources said.

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Foreign ministers from 17 Western Hemisphere nations are condemning Venezuela's new constitutional assembly, saying their governments will refuse to recognize the all-powerful body.

"I call on all parties to work towards a solution to the rapidly worsening tensions in the country, to renounce the use of violence and to take steps towards meaningful political dialogue", Zeid said.

The next round is still expected to stop short of penalties against Venezuela's vital oil sector, considered the toughest of possible sanctions, though such measures, U.S. sources have said, remain under consideration.

Foreign ministers from 14 nations are meeting in Peru on Tuesday in hopes of finding consensus on a regional response to Venezuela's growing political crisis.

The European Union is criticizing the removal of Venezuela's public prosecutor by a newly installed constitutional assembly with almost unlimited authority to govern.

According to the government, two rebels were killed and eight captured.

Opposition lawmaker Delsa Solorzano says the goal of the truth commission is to "persecute those who think differently". He appeared in a video released on the day of the attack encouraging other military units to join his rebellion.

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