Maduro spoke Kluivert (incorrectly spelled “Kluiberth” in yesterday’s update) Roa’s death last night from an event in Trinidad and Tobago. Maduro gave a summary of the events as he understood them, saying:
At that moment, and inverosimil [“unlikely” or “unbelievable”] event happened. Some police officers went by, and they got into a fight. They say that the police were surrounded, punched and attacked with rocks. One of the police officers used his rubber-pellet shotgun, and murdered this young man. I condemn this murder. When I found out – I’m in Trinidad – I ordered the investigation and capture of those responsible. That’s what happened. The people responsible for this are now under arrest.
He also spoke more generally on the issue of police violence, saying:
If any security officer, for any reason, if he’s responsible for the public order and commits a crime, you know that I’m the first person to give the order to look for him and arrest him. In Venezuela, armed repression [of protests] is prohibited explicitly by the Constitution, which contains the tools for containing [protests] like we did last year. We contained guarimbas, guarimbas, guarimbas (street barricades) in an impeccable manner. The 43 people who died were killed by snipers or through violence like this.
Maduro’s comments regarding the legality of violent protest suppression raised eyebrows, as it was less than one month ago that the Ministry of Defence issued a decree in which it legalized violent protest suppression. This decree, found in the Gaceta Oficial 40589 of January 27, 2015, includes the following in article 15, section 9:
They [the armed forces] will not carry, nor will they use firearms to control public meetings and peaceful protests, unless, due to necessity and proportionality of the means used to control them, they need to be carried and used.
When the decree was issued last month, legal experts speculated that it could lead to more fatalities during protests, since security officials could believe themselves justified in using lethal force.
The decree is also a direct violation of article 68 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which explicitly prohibits the use firearms to suppress peaceful protests.
Suspect in Roa Murder Sent to Santa Ana Prison
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz announced today that Javier Mora Ortiz, the National Bolivarian Police officer suspected in the killing of Kluivert Roa, was sent to the Santa Ana prison pending legal proceedings.
Ortiz has been charged with murder, improper use of a firearm and breaking international treaties.
Diaz also made a call for peace to all Venezuelans, saying:
I call on all Venezuelans and all police bodies to act moderately, to control themselves, and to avoid violence. Let’s not forget that the violence that happened last year – the so-called guarimbas – left 43 people dead, including a Public Ministry official.
Students Protest at the Ministry of Interior and Justice
A group of students demonstrated outside the Ministry of Interior and Justice offices in Caracas, demanding action over Kluivert Roa’s death. The students also demanded that resolution 8610 – which allows security forces to use lethal force to suppress protests – be repealed.
Hasler Iglesias, the president of the Federacion de Centros Universitarios at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, said:
Resolution 8610 is terrible, and it stained Tachira with blood yesterday. We demand its immediate repeal.
Protests Continue to Flare
Students to their streets around their university campuses today as the aftermath of Kluivert Roa’s death continues to be felt. Several universities in Maracaibo Zulia state, the Universidad Nacional Experimental Francisco de Miranda in Coro, Falcon state, and the Universidad de Los Andes in Merida, Merida state all saw violence throughout the day.
At the IPASME campus in Maracaibo, at least on person was injured and 90 were arrested as protesters torched a truck and attempted to close traffic in the area. The 90 people arrested today join the 80 detained last night, among them at least 20 minors.
The injured individual was a student named Luis Nevada Fernandez, who was struck in the head by a blunt object.
Similar disturbances also took place at the Universidad Jose Gregorio Hernandez, the Universidad del Zulia and the URBE.
Some shots from the disturbances in Maracaibo:
In Coro, members of the Movimiento de Accion Estudiantil [Student Action Movement] blamed Maduro for Roa’s death, and blocked a main road in the city:
Students also protested in the El Cardenalito area of Barquisimeto, Lara state:
In Merida, at least three students were injured when security officers moved to suppress the demonstration. At least one of the students appears to have been struck by a projectile:
Questions/Comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org