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The unending spiral of violence and repression during the protests in Venezuela is submerging the country in a crisis that will be hard to come back from, threatening the lives and security of the Venezuelan population, Amnesty International said following reports of at least two deaths and several people injured and detained during the protests around the country today.

The Venezuelan authorities confirmed that Paola Ramírez, 23 years old, and Carlos Moreno, 17 years old, were shot dead in San Cristóbal, Táchira and Caracas respectively.

“Stepping out into the street when protests are taking place in Venezuela should not be a death sentence,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

“The tragic combination of growing violence, uncontrolled repression, and lack of action on the part of the authorities to guarantee freedom of expression and justice is a toxic mix that does nothing more than perpetuate violence.”

“The Venezuelan authorities must immediately guarantee the people’s right to go out into the street and peacefully voice their opinion, and urgently investigate all the reports of human rights abuses committed during the protests.”

On the eve of today’s protests, the government activated the "Plan Zamora", a security mechanism calling for the deployment civilians alongside police and military forces to “preserve public order”.

“The ‘Plan Zamora’ calls on civilians to engage in an illegitimate use of force. This is a clear recipe for disaster. This is especially concerning given the repeated reports of abuses at the hands of armed civilian groups,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.