Nicolas Maduro
Image Reuters

After a massive protest in Caracas calling for the exit of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Wednesday ended with the deaths of three people and left at least four others seriously injured, Maduro gave a speech at a military parade on Wednesday night denouncing what he characterized as a “coup d’etat” and ordered the arrest of three opposition leaders. Animal Politico reports that the three are Fernando Gerbasi, a former ambassador who Maduro said “has participated in all of the conspiracies against the country”; Iván Carratú Molina, a former vice admiral with the Venezuelan navy; and Leopoldo López, the head of an opposition party who had led efforts to organize the protests.

The government says 69 people were arrested and 30 still detained in connection with the protests, which were spearheaded by students. Witnesses told the Associated Press that shortly after the bulk of the tens of thousands of protestors assembled had gone home, armed men began shooting into a crowd of about 100. Two of the dead have been identified: one, 24-year-old student Bassil Alejandro da Costa, perished after being shot in the head; the other, Juan Montoya, was reportedly a member of Chavista Jan. 23 collective.

La Jornada reports that Carlos Vecchio, a spokesperson for the Popular Will Party, of which Leopoldo López is a leader, said that López was at home and would remain in the country to face any charges against him. “We’re not afraid, and Leopoldo López least of all,” said Vecchio. According to Animal Politico, López pointed the finger back at the government in comments to the press, saying, “You all are the ones responsible.” He added that the violent end to the protests was part of “an orchestrated plan” by the government.

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