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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.
"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.
Funcionarios del @CPBEZ me despojaron del teléfono corporativo con el que cubría pautas. No lograron quitar la cámara al reportero gráfico.
— Jose Luengo (@josemluengo) February 19, 2014
[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.
Luke Villapaz is a Multimedia Producer at the International Business Times. He comes from a diverse media background working freelance in production and photography. Luke...