CARACAS (Reuters) - 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 U.S. 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.”
Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Deisy Buitragolm editing by Girish Gupta and David Gregorio