The Miami Herald
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

BOGOTA, Colombia — Venezuela's opposition is asking demonstrators to shut down all traffic for two hours Friday to protest the point-blank shooting death of a 22-year-old protester on Thursday in Caracas.

The call comes amid cycles of escalating violence and more than 80 days of protests that have left more than 75 dead.

On Thursday, a man identified as David Vallenilla was shot in the chest at close range by a member of the national guard. The shooting of an unarmed protester — caught on video — has become the latest symbol of the government's excessive use of force.

Speaking for the coalition of opposition parties, opposition lawmaker Jose Manuel Olivares called on people nationwide for workers to use their lunch breaks shut down the streets.

"The entire country should be paralyzed (Friday) to show our indignation over the Armed Forces that represent death," he said. "All of Venezuela needs to know that they killed David Vallenilla. We cannot allow death to be normalized."

President Nicolas Maduro has publicly scolded the military and warned them of firing into crowds, but this week has seen at least two close-range shooting deaths.

Protesters are demanding general elections, the release of political prisoners and humanitarian aid. While the vast majority of demonstrators are peaceful, a combative and violent minority have been clashing with police.

Maduro, whose term ends in 2019, accuses the demonstrators of being "terrorists" bent on toppling his socialist government.