Death Count


Action. Concrete Poetry performance numbering the total death count for each day while wearing a skull mask in Plaza Altamira, Caracas, in the context of the 2017 Venezuelan protests, which a series of major protests occurring throughout Venezuela. Protests began in January after the arrest of multiple opposition leaders and the cancellation of dialogue between the opposition and Nicolás Maduro’s government.

As the tension continued, the 2017 Venezuelan constitutional crisis began in late March when the pro-government Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) dissolved the opposition-led National Assembly, with the intensity of protests increasing greatly throughout Venezuela following the decision.

As April arrived, the protests grew “into the most combative since a wave of unrest in 2014” resulting from the crisis with hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans protesting daily through the month and into May.

Graffitis expressing anger at the Unity Roundtable on October 5. By Jamez42 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Mother of All Marches

On 19 April 2017, the “mother of all protests,” as it was called by organizers, occurred. The day began with demonstrators gathering around the country at about 10:30 a.m., with Caracas having 26 different routes for the main march to head to the office of the Ombudsman to demonstrate. As the march progressed through Caracas, the National Guard began to block routes and fire tear gas at marchers at 11:50 a.m., with the demonstrators refusing to leave despite the use of force. 

At about 12:30 p.m., demonstrations by both opposition and pro-government Venezuelans fill Caracas’ avenues. Shortly after 12:45 p.m., protesters on the Francisco Fajardo Freeway near Bello Monte begin to flee the area after enduring over an hour of tear gas from authorities, with many leaping into the Guaire River, which is used for sewage drainage, to avoid the gas. Near 2:10 p.m., a 17-year-old boy was shot in the head and killed at a protest.

The “Tank Woman”, who prevented VN-4s from repressing protesters. Photo: By Efecto Eco, CC BY 3.0,

At about 4:35 p.m., pro-government paramilitaries called colectivos shot and killed Paola Ramirez, a 23-year-old woman who was protesting. Later in the evening, a National Guardsman was killed south of Caracas, the first authority killed in the year’s protests, with the day’s deaths raising the death toll of the 2017 protests to at least 8 people.

By 9:00 p.m., the Penal Forum stated that 521 Venezuelans had been arrested throughout the day, bringing the number of total arrests since the beginning of the year to over 1,000.

Several media outlets stated “hundreds of thousands” participated while Central University mathematics professor Ricardo Rios estimated at least 1.2 million protested, which would make it the largest protest in Venezuela’s history. According to pollster Meganálisis, 2.5 million Venezuelans protested in Caracas alone, while 6 million protested throughout the country.

Altamira Square, one of the meeting points of the Mother of All Marches.Photo: By Jamez42 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Death Count

In the first month of protests, April 2017, 33 Venezuelans died as a result of incidents surrounding the protests. A large proportion of the deaths occurred on 20 April 2017, with 16 deaths being attributed to looting occurring in Caracas that evening consisting of thirteen electrocution deaths and three firearm deaths.

Venezuelan authorities were the cause of 7 other deaths that month; five firearm deaths, one tear gas canister wound, and one asphyxiation from tear gas, while pro-government paramilitary groups known as colectivos, which cooperate with government security forces to repress protesters, were responsible for another 6 deaths, all the result of firearms.

Deaths perpetrated by unknown individuals accounted for 4 Venezuelans killed in April; three gunshot wounds and one head injury.

Body of Paola Ramírez during the Mother of All Marches. Photo: By Voice of America –, Public Domain,


In the month of May, a total of 47 Venezuelans died following violence occurring near protests. Unknown perpetrators were the cause of death for 24 Venezuelans; twenty gunshot wounds, one head injury, two electrocutions, and one unknown cause of death.

Security forces were responsible for 16 deaths; all sixteen deaths attributed to firearms, while colectivos killed 2 individuals; all two resulting from firearms. Accidental and incidental deaths claimed 4 lives; two from an automobile accident with a barricade, two from being struck by a vehicle. Citizens of Barinas shot dead 1 member of the National Guard during the riots in the area in late May.

The body of Miguel Castillo Bracho. Photo: By Voice of America –, Public Domain,


In June, a total of 25 Venezuelans were killed during the protests. Fifteen deaths were attributed to unknown individuals, three deaths were caused by colectivos with all being gunshot wounds, three were caused by civilians, two were attributed to accidents, two were caused by Venezuelan authorities with both being gunshot wounds.

The causes of death were seventeen gunshot wound incidents, five incidents where individuals were struck by a vehicle, one death by tear gas asphyxiation, one death by blunt trauma, and one lynching. A man who was struck in the head by a tear gas canister in June 2017 later died on 13 February 2018.

Escuderos bearing shields at a protest. By Jamez42 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


A total of 58 Venezuelans were killed in the month of July as protests culminated into the 2017 Venezuelan Constituent Assembly election.

During the election day alone on July 30, 10 individuals died as a result of violent clashes, representing a large number of those killed in the month. Excluding those killed during the August 6 Paramacay Military Base attack, July was the final month in which protesters were killed, as the protests began to dissipate in mid-August.

A protester at a march against the government held in Caracas on July 31.MIGUEL GUTIERREZ / EFE


The final death during the 2017 protests occurred on Christmas Eve when an 18-year-old pregnant woman was caught in a protest over limited amounts of pork. She was shot and killed by a National Guardsman at the scene who was later arrested.

Amnesty International maintains that the government has a “premeditated policy” to commit violent and lethal acts against protesters, stating that there is “a planned strategy by the government of President Maduro to use violence and illegitimate force against the Venezuelan population to neutralize any criticism.”

Most of the victims of the 2017 protests were students.

Man at an altar dedicated to Neomar Lander on 8 June. Photo: By Jamez42 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,