Venezuela Protests: Riots And Violence Escalate While Government Cracks Down On Media And Protesters [VIDEO]

 @lukeydukeyl.villapaz@ibtimes.com
on February 20 2014 12:13 PM
Venezuela riots
A supporter of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez jumps over a burning barricade during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas February 19, 2014. Tensions have risen in Venezuela since Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist, surrendered to troops on Tuesday after spearheading three weeks of often rowdy demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro's government. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlin

Note: Some content below is graphic. Viewer discretion advised.

Update 3:43 p.m.: President Nicolás Maduro sent the Venezuelan army to San Cristóbal to try to restore order.

Violence escalated in Venezuela Wednesday, as protesters angered over economic and crime issues clashed with national police and government supporters. At the latest report, at least five lives have been lost in the unrest.

The most prominent victim is Genesis Carmona, a 22-year-old beauty queen and student demonstrator, who was shot dead in Valencia Wednesday. Carmona, who was named Miss Turismo 2013 for the state of Carabobo, was shot in the head by gunmen on motorbikes during a protest. A photo from the demonstration showed the beauty queen lying limp in the arms of a man driving to take her to a hospital on a motorcycle.

According to the New York Daily News, Carmona was pronounced dead at the hospital Wednesday afternoon.

“How long are we going to live like this?” asked a relative, who chose to remain anonymous. "How long do we have to tolerate this pressure, with them killing us?"

The relative said Carmona was studying tourism at a university and was involved in the demonstrations.

Genesis Carmona Opposition supporter Genesis Carmona is evacuated on a motorcycle after being shot in the head during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Valencia, some 100 miles (160 km) from Caracas, February 18, 2014. A 22-year-old student from the central city of Valencia died on Wednesday after being shot in the head during an anti-government demonstration, her family said, the fifth victim of unrest in Venezuela. Genesis Carmona, who was studying tourism and was also a local beauty queen, was shot during a demonstration in Valencia on Tuesday, relatives told. Picture taken February 18, 2014.  Reuters/Mauricio Centeno-Notitarde

"She only needed one more semester to graduate,” the relative said. Carmona is the fifth person to die in the protests against the socialist government set up by the late President Hugo Chavez.

Despite the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who the government says instigated violence, demonstrators on both sides continued to clash with each other and national police.

Media outlets have also fallen victim to the unrest with police and protesters reportedly harassing journalists on the streets.

 

[State police took away my company phone with which I was covering the protest. They failed to grab the photojournalist's camera]

CNN also reports that its news crew had its cameras and transmission equipment taken at gunpoint. A national guard major who spoke to CNN said the perpetrators may have been plainclothes officers.

While Venezuelans have attempted to circumvent crackdowns on the press via social media, the government is said to be systematically monitoring and blocking online services to “defeat destabilization plans.”

Despite such efforts, videos and photos coming out of Venezuela have drawn international support for the opposition.

Take a closer look at some of the videos and photos of Venezuelan protests here.

Venezuela protesters Supporters of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez riot against police during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas February 19, 2014.  Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela water cannon Supporters of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez are hit by police's water canon during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas February 19, 2014.  Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela Riot police Supporters of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez (R) fight police during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas February 19, 2014.  Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlin

Venezuela protests Supporters of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez stand at a barricade during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in a middle-class neighbourhood in Caracas February 20, 2014.  Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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