At 6:30 a.m. on Friday, a military convoy approached a checkpoint set up by an indigenous community in the southern village of Kumarakapai, that rests on the main artery linking Venezuela to Brazil. When the volunteers sought to block the military vehicles by standing in front of them, soldiers began firing assault rifles, wounding at least 12 people, four of them seriously. One woman, Zorayda Rodriguez, 42, was killed.

“I ask the armed forces , is it constitutional for them to fire against unarmed indigenous people?” said Jorge Perez, a local councilman in Gran Sabana, the district where the town is located who said he was present when the soldiers opened fire. “Is it constitutional to kill indigenous people?”

At least 30 neighbors took to the streets following the shootings, kidnapping three soldiers, according to Carmen Elena Silva, 48, who had joined in the roadblock, and George Bello, a spokesperson for the indigenous community.