Venezuela says soldier arrested for killing pregnant woman in line for pork

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) shakes hands with a newly graduated police woman during a Bolivarian National Police officers' graduation ceremony in Caracas, Venezuela, in this December 20, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 02 January 2018

Venezuela says soldier arrested for killing pregnant woman in line for pork

CARACAS: Venezuelan authorities arrested a National Guard soldier over the weekend and accused him of shooting a pregnant 18 year-old during an incident that local media described as a melee over scarce pork.
Alexandra Colopoy was gunned down by First Sergeant David Rebolledo, according to a tweet by the state prosecutor late Sunday night. No further details were provided, but critics of President Nicolas Maduro’s leftist government seized on the incident, calling it a stark example of the oil-rich country’s meltdown.
Local media reported that Colopoy’s husband and a witness said the soldiers were drunk when they arrived at the queue for pork in a poor area of Caracas. They said the soldiers ordered the Venezuelans to move on because the traditional Christmas meat had run out, but the group refused.
“The National Guard went crazy and started firing,” Colopoy’s spouse Bernabé said in a filmed interview circulating on social media. “She fell to the ground,” he said, adding his wife was five month pregnant. His brother Alejandro was also shot, but was recovering, he said.
Prosecutor Tarek Saab condemned the incident.
“The Venezuelan state guarantees the respect and application of human rights, as well as sanctions for those who violate them,” he tweeted.
Food riots and rowdy queues in front of supermarkets have become frequent in Venezuela. The OPEC country is reeling from a fourth year of brutal recession. Millions of residents have salaries that add up to just a few US dollars a month, making it difficult to obtain enough food.
“This is how the murderous regime treats the people,” opposition lawmaker Delsa Solorzano tweeted on Monday. “The sorrow of this man, whose wife and baby to be were killed by a bullet from the state, is Venezuela’s sorrow.”


Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

Updated 50 min 35 sec ago

Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

  • “The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The mayor of Italy’s Lampedusa island on Thursday denounced the collapsing government for its failure to deal with migrant rescue boats, as a ship carrying 356 people remained stranded in the Mediterranean.
Mayor Salvatore Martello said the reception center on the tiny isle was already over capacity and would struggle to house migrants currently stuck aboard the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking.
The vessel, run by charities Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, has sought a port for almost two weeks after rescuing four boats of migrants off the Libyan coast between 9 and 12 August.
“It would be difficult because the reception center is saturated,” Martello told AFP.
“The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”
Lampedusa has long been a magnet for African migrants fleeing poverty and conflict.
Thousands have attempted to make the unsafe crossing from Libya in a bid to reach Europe this year, despite efforts to deter them.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been accused of demonizing migrants and leaving them to drown in the sea.
He has repeatedly insisted that rescued migrants can only land in Italy if other EU countries take them in.
Italy’s president on Thursday was holding a second day of talks after the disintegration of the anti-immigrant coalition government, which broke down after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday.
The plight of the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking, which was denied entry by both Italy and Malta, is the latest in a string of migrant boat standoffs with Italian authorities.
The Open Arms rescue ship was allowed to land in Lampedusa on Wednesday, with 83 migrants disembarking, after Italian justice ordered they be brought ashore.
Many of them had spent 19 days on board the ship after being picked up while in difficulty in waters off Libya.
There were initially 147 mainly African migrants on the ship but all minors and some suffering health problems had already disembarked.
A European deal to redistribute them has yet to be implemented.