CARACAS – Eight people were killed in “extra-judicial executions” by Venezuelan special forces following last week’s protests against President Nicolas Maduro, a nongovernmental organization said on Monday.
Rafael Uzcategui, director of the Venezuelan Program for Education-Action in Human Rights, also said that another 35 people have been killed since the protests began Jan. 21.
Speaking at a press conference, Uzcategui said the extra-judicial executions happened in operations conducted by the police special forces unit, FAES, in socially deprived areas.
“We have the corroborated figure, with first name, surname, place and presumed guilty parties, of 35 people murdered in the context of the protests” since Monday last week, said Uzcategui.
Protests broke out last week after a group of soldiers rose up against Maduro on Monday to support parliament President Juan Guaido’s call to disavow the socialist leader.
Guaido proclaimed himself acting president Jan. 23 during a mass street rally that brought out tens of thousands of people to protest against Maduro, whom they blame for Venezuela’s economic meltdown that has left millions in poverty and forced millions of others out of the country.
Alfredo Romero, the director of another NGO, Foro Penal, said 850 people, among them 77 minors, have been arrested.
Romero said authorities had broken in to “the homes of poor people without any judicial order” to make arrests.
Following the arrests, Foro Penal said the number of political prisoners in the country has risen to 976.
Opposition parties branded as fraudulent last May’s election which saw Maduro win another term, citing the number of opposition leaders that were jailed, exiled or barred from standing.
Guaido, whose claims to authority have been recognized by the United States and a dozen Latin American countries, has called two more protests this week in a bid to force Maduro, who is backed by the military, from power.