Venezuela beauty queen shot dead amid protests and political turmoil

Venezuelans have taken to the streets in recent days, leading to gruesome clashes between protesters and police. Their demands are varied, from economic to social.

A Venezuelan beauty queen and student demonstrator was fatally shot in the head Wednesday during a political protest, the fifth fatality from the country’s ongoing political turmoil.

Genesis Carmona, 22, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. She was winner of the 2013 Miss Tourism crown in Carabobo, and represented her state at Miss Tourism Venezuela.

Her Twitter account shows she actively retweeted messages from opposition leaders and supported Lopez. She even retweeted guidance for a workaround in case the government tried to block access to social media as the protests grew.

The last thing Carmona shared on Twitter was a retweet: “Stay with the one who tells the best stories. One day they will tell yours.”

In Wednesday night’s national television broadcast, Maduro described bullet wounds sustained by government forces during protests and showed videos that he said depicted opposition protesters throwing stones and setting buses ablaze.

“You think this is a novel? This is the reality that you with your hatred have created,” he said. “If you don’t like Venezuela, leave.”

So many protests worldwide. When did Venezuela’s begin?

Venezuela Protests Feb 18Nationwide student protests started this month. On February 12, the demonstrations attracted global attention when three people were killed.

Demonstrators are demanding better security, an end to goods shortages and protected freedom of speech.

Major social and economic problems have fueled the protests. But as the demonstrations gained steam, officials have pointed fingers at other factors and accused the United States of plotting to destabilize the government.

Some blame Venezuela’s government, led by President Nicolas Maduro, for those problems. Maduro and other officials blame the opposition for the security and economic problems.

Who’s protesting?

Carabobo, Venezuela ProtestsMany demonstrators across the country are students. Prominent opposition politicians have also led protests and joined marches.

Since February 13, more than 1,100 images have been uploaded to iReport, CNN’s user-generated platform. Many of the videos and photos are gruesome and depict violent scenes between demonstrators and police.

Who are some of the opposition figures involved?

You’ll be hearing a lot about opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in the coming days. He’s become the opposition’s face of demonstrations against the government. Lopez was detained this week on terrorism and murder charges, his wife said.

What did Lopez do?

Lopez faces charges of terrorism and murder in the deaths of four anti-government protesters and a government supporter in clashes nationwide. He was targeted because he organized protests demanding better security, an end to shortages and protected freedom of speech.

He has denied the charges.

The charges against Lopez “smack of a politically motivated attempt to silence dissent in the country,” Amnesty International said in a prepared statement.

Human Rights Watch weighed in, too, warning that Venezuela must avoid “scapegoating” political opponents.

Maduro is facing the largest anti-government protests in his 11 months in power. He has called opposition members fascists and compared them to an infection that needs to be cured.

You mentioned something about a U.S. plot to destabilize Venezuela …

Yes. Top Venezuelan officials have accused the United States of trying to destabilize the government. This week, Venezuela gave three U.S. diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, accusing them of conspiring to bring down the government.

At a rally Tuesday, Maduro shouted, “Yankee, go home” from the stage, drawing cheers from the crowd.

U.S. President Barack Obama was not amused.

“Venezuela, rather than trying to distract from its own failings by making up false accusations against diplomats from the United States, the government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people,” he told reporters.

Is this the first time Venezuela has had protests?

No. Bitter protests and counterprotests by supporters and opponents of the government have threatened political stability in Venezuela over the past decade.

Many of Maduro’s claims — of U.S. intervention, of assassination plots — were also lobbed by the late President Hugo Chavez. Chavez was briefly ousted in a coup in 2002, but otherwise outlasted the protests and repeatedly won reelection. He ruled for 14 years until his death last year after a long battle with cancer.

What’s the latest?

Lopez remained in a military prison Thursday. His wife, Lilian Tintori de Lopez, called on supporters to keep the pressure on the government.

“Don’t give up,” she said. “I won’t.”

Lopez’s court hearing adjourned early Thursday.

Tell me more about Venezuela

Venezuela is on the northern coast of South America and shares a border with Colombia, Brazil and Guyana. Its formal name is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The oil-rich nation — one of the world’s top 10 oil exporting countries worldwide — has a population of about 30 million.

What happened to Hugo Chavez?

He died of cancer last year. Maduro, who was then his vice president, won the presidential election and is now running the country.

28 comments

  • Ashley Bllount

    about time you post something about what is going on in Venezuela but its more than about a beauty queen being shot. Many people who live there are being shot just for walking out of their home. They have little access to any food thanks to their government and are trying to fight just to live. They need many prayers and we needs to spread the word on what is going on because so many people are clueless

      • Frank Aragon

        Its hard to imagine, in this day and age that we still have a Dictatorship in existence. With the internet being available around the world everyone knows how the other is living and should fight for equality, freedom of speech and the right to a democratic process of electing their leaders. North Korea is the other place people need to stand up for change but their crazy leader(Jong) would press the button to kill all his people including himself. Venezolanos don’t have that technology “yet”. So they should make that move now or forever hold your peace. Killing a beauty Queen is just a side bar to what’s really happening over there. Ask about the senseless executions by the military.

      • dewey

        you’re right, but the destructs have become the GOP…a la Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mitch McTurtle and that teary-eyed drunk John Boehner

    • cathy

      Really Ryan? I guess that explains all those riots that we hear about in Sweden???

      Of course, we don’t hear about any. It isn’t socialism that is the problem. It is corrupt governments. It comes from embracing communism (a la Castro), not socialism.

      Socialism allows children to eat when their parents are laid off and don’t have money to feed them. Socialism allows someone to get medical care in an emergency room if they don’t have insurance and don’t have the funds to pay cash (this includes a lot of people who work but do not have insurance with their jobs).

    • JT

      Assuming you are talking about healthcare in this, I wonder, how is turning health care over to the insurance companies “socialism?” It’s corporate capitalism at its worst. And it is plutocracy that modern conservatism has created that is most threatening to our country. The middle class is disappearing, and as the Occupy movement made clear, the richest 2% of Americans have more money/goods/services than the bottom 98% has COMBINED. THAT”S where you will see this country collapse, not helping poor people go to the doctor.

    • Ed G. Power (@Avnrulz)

      Wayne, the ‘takers’ are in charge, squeezing more and more out of the ‘makers’. All of Obama’s policies are derailing this country. Yes,we were a country based on Capitalism, but the Left has made that one of the ‘bad’ -isms. Look at the numbers of folks out of work and no longer looking, the percentage of the eligible workers opting out, the growing number of folks on food stamps, ‘disability’, etc.

      • JT

        Because it is a “bad” ism, Ed–it is an economic system based on greed. You simply cannot sustain such a system.

      • dewey

        takers you say….when do the “makers” start paying their fair share….they game the system and live in loopholes so that they don’t have to pay like the rest of us, and the trailer park republicans keep right on supporting this….how many “middle class” folks do you know with $1 million in assets that they can afford to lose…NONE, so don’t hurt your mind…it’s almost as funny as Mittens saying he was middle class…

  • Rodney Williamson

    It really is sickening to see Maduro resort to shooting beauty queens to try to prop up his crumbling power base. He really doesn’t have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of Chavez and his economic policies are clearly a total failure. He should resign and let someone competent take over.

  • Marquez

    Come on Venezuela you are a beautiful , rich country, all should pull together and build not tear down. do not divide. unite !!

  • Joust

    Hey!! Where’s the comment from Sean Penn or Oliver Stone! They love the Venezuelan government so much.

    Anything to say, boys? Anything? Hello????

  • Dave

    The People of Venezuela have spoken. If freedom cannot be won with the ballot box, then pull out the ammo boxes! Enough is enough! The Communist Manifesto is a well-meaning, nice-sounding document. But, really, which “communist” country has ever made meaningful change for their people or given them the actual freedom, profit-sharing, and the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” that is promised? Venezuela is a beautiful country with great wealth and some of the world’s most beautiful people. Rise up, Venezolanos! Take back your nation!

    • Ashley Blount

      Well said Dave! My family is there and it kills me that they are going through this but I’m behind them for fighting for their live, land, and home. We would do the same here!!!!

  • Ariel Velazquez

    So talks failed I guess its time to pick up arms. Who is paying for this? Another dictator needs to be removed. Who do you call? A lot of the Venezuelans that fled to Miami came with lots of money and are living the good life. Will they pay for it? I’m all for freedom but not on my tax money. We have our own problems here. Can the opposition fend for themselves? I wish them the best outcome. Hopefully Russia will not get involved.

  • Ashley

    some people make me sick!!! yes Venezuela WAS a beautiful country and people had/have money…. that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care that they cant walk outside of their home without getting shot by the military or getting beat. Or the fact the government shut down access to food and that people are going hungry or the fact that the government is shutting down access to social media so they don’t “look” bad to other countries. Have a heart people if they fled to another country to be SALF and not be afraid to live life then so be it, these are peoples family such as mine and they are human beings. HAVE A HEART

    • Ariel Velazquez

      I agree with you. Something must be done. I will help donate some funds to help buy food, medicine and weapons so they can overthrow the current Government, but I do not want the US to send money, troops or even bullets. We are not the World Police. I am retired from the Military so I understand. It is not our affair to get involved in.

  • JJ

    The U.S…capitalists?? NO, try Imperialists. Why do you think they’re downsizing the military now? Mission accomplished.

  • Woogy Lewis

    Sure, let’s blame the USA for a country where Chavez (who was opposed by the USA) ran one of the worst governments in Latin American history until he died last year. The people there want to be free of the chains of that Castro like government, who can blame them? They want to shoot people on the streets, like Pinochet did in Chile, then the blame is on them, not the USA. My point being is that the USA is blamed whether we support or oppose the government in charge, which is absurd.

  • Conan

    Well well well. Another socialists/communist Govt. crushing its people. Who just like America can’t stand the Socialist in charge because they are making life more difficult. ANY parallels with the socialists we have in office? Health Care taken over, Taxes up, more Taxes put on medical devices and other things. etc. etc. WAKE UP AMERICA!

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