UN appeals all parties to avoid violence in Venezuela

New York: The United Nations on Sunday expressed concern over the escalation of tensions in Venezuela and has appealed “all parties” to avoid violence “at any cost”.

“The Secretary-General appeals for violence to be avoided at any cost and for the lethal force not to be used in any circumstances. He appeals for calm and urges all actors to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent further escalation,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General António Guterres, said in a statement.

The UN statement comes in the wake of Saturday’s violence that broke out between locals and Venezuela’s security forces along the Columbian borders. Five people were killed in clashes with the security forces.

At least 285 people were hurt after the Venezuelan National Guard fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors, reported CNN.

The global body has also expressed grief over the loss following the violence. “He (António Guterres) was shocked and saddened to learn that a number of civilians lost their lives in the context of yesterday’s events,” the statement further read.

The South American nation is crippled with a political and economic crisis since January.

The political crisis began in Venezuela on January 23 when opposition leader Juan Guaido marched against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and announced himself as interim president.

The economic crisis in the nation, coupled with a food shortage, has strengthened an anti-Maduro sentiment across the South American nation, with the opposition accusing Maduro of “usurping power.”

A defiant Maduro, who is backed by the country’s powerful military, claimed that the opposition protests are an attempt by the US to stage a coup and overthrow him.