Venezuelan man shot dead amid protests over shortages, NGO says

CIUDAD GUAYANA, Venezuela (Reuters) – A Venezuelan man was shot dead on Thursday as locals protesting food and gas shortages looted several stores in one southern town, a rights group said, as frustrations spiked six weeks into a quarantine that has worsened an economic crisis.

The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict said on Twitter that the 29-year-old was shot twice in the head in the town of Upata, though it did not identify who killed him. Photographs posted on social media showed a man in shorts and a striped T-shirt lying in a street by a puddle of blood.

The military head of surrounding Bolivar state, General Adolfo Rodriguez, said authorities arrested 10 people during the riots, but did not mention the death. Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to a request to comment.

Opposition lawmakers and rights groups said there were similar protests elsewhere in Venezuela on Thursday, from the town of Punta de Mata in the east, to Pueblo Llano, in the Andean state of Merida.

Venezuela, an OPEC member, is suffering from an acute shortage of motor fuel due to the near total collapse of its refining network after years of under-investment and lack of maintenance, as well as the U.S. sanctions that have complicated crude-for-gasoline swaps.

Halted transport networks have further restricted the supply of food to places such as Upata. The quarantine has also made it harder for poor families to get out and find basic goods.

Venezuela has confirmed 311 cases of coronavirus, and 10 deaths.

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