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17-year-old dies during Venezuelan protests

By Osmary Hernandez and Holly Yan, CNN
updated 7:36 AM EST, Thu February 20, 2014
A masked anti-government demonstrator returns a tear gas canister to Bolivarian National Guards during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 12. For months, protesters unhappy with Venezuela's economy and rising crime have been at odds with security forces. A masked anti-government demonstrator returns a tear gas canister to Bolivarian National Guards during clashes in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 12. For months, protesters unhappy with Venezuela's economy and rising crime have been at odds with security forces.
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Protests in Venezuela
Protests in Venezuela
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Protests in Venezuela
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 17-year-old hit by a truck and killed during a protest
  • Last week, three anti-government protesters died in clashes in Caracas
  • Young Venezuelans unhappy with the ravaged economy and rising crime

Editor's note: iReport: Have you witnessed the protests in Venezuela? Share your experiences, but please stay safe.

(CNN) -- A 17-year-old was hit by a truck and killed during a protest in Carupano, Venezuela, a government official said.

Authorities are investigating the death of Jose Ernesto Mendez, elected official Cesar Rincones said Monday.

For weeks, Venezuela has been mired by deadly protests. Young Venezuelans unhappy with the ravaged economy and rising crime have clashed with security forces, who have fired tear gas and water cannons.

Rival groups take over Caracas streets
Who is opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez?
CNN cams taken at gunpoint in Venezuela

Last week, three anti-government protesters died in confrontations in Caracas.

The country is grappling with an inflation rate of 56.2%, the highest in the world. Many basic goods are missing from the shelves.

Adding to the tension, authorities have issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopold Lopez on charges including conspiracy and murder in connection with the violence.

And on Monday, the government said three U.S. diplomats have 48 hours to leave the South American country, accusing them of conspiring against its government.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua accused the U.S. officials of using a visa program as a cover to meet with youth organizers at private universities "for training, financing and creating youth organizations through which violence is promoted in Venezuela."

The State Department fired back, calling that claim "baseless and false" and saying the United States had not yet received any formal notification of the officials' expulsion.

READ: Venezuela: 9 things to know about the protests

READ: Venezuelan opposition leader Lopez remains behind bars

READ: Will Venezuela abandon Chavismo?

CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet and journalist Phil Gunson contributed to this report.

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