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Venezuela security operations leave over 1,300 dead in five months, U.N. rights office says

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan security operations killed at least 1,324 people in the first five months of 2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday.

Michelle Bachelet, who presented a 17-page report on Venezuela in Geneva, said “I am still concerned about the high numbers of deaths of young people by security forces,” referring to people who were said to have died while resisting authorities.

Venezuela’s official figures show 6,710 homicides in 2019 and 1,363 between January and May of this year.

Those figures “do not include violent deaths in the context of security operations classified as ‘resistance to the authority,’” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile.

Of the deaths in security operations in 2020, at least 432 were attributed to police special forces unit FAES, 366 to the investigative police known as CICPC, 136 to the National Guard and 124 to the police of Zulia state, the report said.

Jorge Valero, Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, said the report was based on “unfounded questioning” meant to “fuel the agenda of aggression that is unfolding against Venezuela.”

Valero said that Venezuela in August will receive Alena Douhan, the Office’s Special Rapporteur on “the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights,” who focuses on the impact of sanctions.

The United States maintains a broad sanctions program against Venezuela in efforts to force the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, which ruling Socialist Party officials blame for the South American country’s economic collapse.

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