Brazil has said it will send 10 more troops to the Venezuelan border after the country’s president was killed, amid reports that the countrys government had ordered troops to shoot at protesters at the countryside.
The military operation to protect the president was ordered by President Hugo Chavez, who had called for the troops to come to the border and protect him after the deaths of at least 16 people who died at the hands of anti-government protesters.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez gestures during a signing ceremony at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela on June 2, 2017.
President Nicolas Maduro was declared dead on Sunday after being declared unconscious at a hospital in Caracol, where he was staying for treatment after being wounded in an attack on Saturday night.
The government has said at least four people were killed and at least 100 were injured in the clashes.
A senior Venezuelan official said the president died of a heart attack and his body was flown to the country by helicopter from Argentina, where the Venezuelan president was staying in hospital.
The official said his condition had not been confirmed by relatives.
“This is an attempt to conceal what happened,” Maduro’s spokesman Jorge Arreaza said, speaking to state-run TV.
Arreaza added that Venezuela had also been ordered by Chavez’s wife, Cilia Flores, to send a team to Caracas.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a vocal critic of Venezuela’s government, said the government was “inhumane” and said that Venezuela’s leaders should be charged for the deaths.
“I think the death of Hugo Chavez is a very sad day for Latin America,” he said.
“I hope that the Venezuelan government will take swift action against the Venezuelan military that is responsible for this.”
The US State Department said the Venezuelan authorities had asked for more troops in order to protect its own citizens.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the Venezuelan Government’s decision to use excessive force against protesters,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of force by any Venezuelan government or military, including the Venezuelan National Guard, in violation of international law.”
The death of Cháves regime has raised tensions in the South American nation, which is divided between Venezuela and the US, and has brought new waves of protests against the country in the past few weeks.
Chávez died on Sunday at the age of 81 after being taken to hospital with a head injury, and authorities said he had been pronounced dead shortly after.