CARACAS, Venezuela — Days before a polarizing vote to start rewriting its constitution,is convulsing to a rhythm of daytime strikes and nocturnal clashes. The most recent violence drove the death toll from nearly four months of unrest to 102 on Thursday.
Most of the dead in anti-government protests that began in April are young men killed by gunfire. The toll also includes looters; police allegedly attacked by protesters; and civilians killed in accidents related to roadblocks set up during demonstrations.
The count has been highly politicized, with the opposition and other government agencies reporting varying tolls and causes of death that focus blame on the other side.
The protests began over moves by President Nicolas Maduro’s government to restrict the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
But the mounting deaths of demonstrators have become a separate source of outrage for the young people who march during the day and assemble nightly to fight the police and national guardsmen at improvised barricades across the country.
“The ones who have fallen fighting repression motivate us to keep fighting,” said Sandra Fernandez, a 21-year-old university student.
The country’s chief prosecutor reported Thursday on Twitter that a 16-year-old was killed at a protest in the capital overnight while a 23-year-old man was slain at a demonstration in Merida state.
The four killings pushed the death toll of the political crisis above the century mark. The oil-rich South American country, which was in the second day of a two-day general strike that shuttered businesses nationwide, has also seen thousands of injuries and arrests.