A group of university students in San Cristobal, Tachira hijacked a city bus and crashed it into a police roadblock, killing two officers and injuring twelve other people. The students are from the Instituto Universitario Tecnologico (IUT), and were protesting against an increase in bus fares in the city.
According to El Nacional, the students hijacked the bus at around 6:30 AM from the city’s main bus terminal. Once on the road, the students became aware that the police had created a roadblock to attempt to stop them, at which time the students apparently drove the bus into the roadblock, killing two National Bolivarian Police officers.
Below, some images of authorities and IUT students facing off in San Cristobal earlier this morning:
Turmoil In DR Over Drug Case Ruling
The Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic is set to review a ruling that granted unconditional freedom to five Venezuelan nationals caught in the act of smuggling 359 kilograms of cocaine into the island last week.
Mariano German, the president of the Dominican Republic Supreme Court, called for “an investigation into the circumstances under which [the suspects] were granted unconditional freedom” by a judge Aristilda Mercedes on Saturday. The men remain in custody in a prison in La Romana because authorities claim that they have not yet received the written order to release them, although it now likely that the men will remain under custody while the investigation the Supreme Court has called for is resoled.
The suspects’ defense lawyer, Valentin Medrano, continues to call for the immediate release of his clients, whom he claims were not in fact caught in the act because they were arrested inside the airport after disembarking from the airplane.
Judge Mercedes has said that her reason for releasing the men had to do with violations involving the investigation of the event, which she claims left her with no choice but to set the men free.
Judge Who Granted Freedom Also Ordered Plane Searched
The Attorney General of the Dominican Republic, Reina Yaniris Rodriguez, announced today that judge Aristilda Mercedes – the one who ordered the Venezuelan suspects released – also gave the initial order to search the airplane in which the drugs were found. Rodriguez claims that no written record of the order exists because Mercedes gave it to authorities on the scene over the phone.
Rodriguez also said that the judge’s decision to release the men is “unfair” and “unfortunate”.
Judge Possibly Under Investigation
A source involved in the case told La Patilla that judge Mercedes will also be investigated by authorities, given what is argued to be her ruling’s disconnection from reality. The source told La Patilla:
Judge Aristilda Mercedes will also be investigated because there’s really no reason for releasing those five Venezuelans. I mean, they were arrested alongside the drugs. It was a flagrant crime. It’s not like someone told us about it.
Guri Dam Level: 244.89 meters
The national government revealed today that the Guri hydroelectric dam’s water level is currently sitting at 244.89 meters above sea level, 89 centimeters away from the critical point at which the dam’s turbines would begin to sustain substantial damage from normal operations.
The Vice-Minister of Electrical Industry Development, Freddy Brito, told the media today that the figure is not critical, but that it does warrant thinking about carefully. He urged Venezuelans to save electricity, for example, by keeping air conditioning units off or rationing their use.
Maduro: Telesur Not Going Away
Maduro spoke yesterday on Argentina’s decision to pull out of the Telesur network, saying that the television network would continue to thrive in the country. Maduro said:
They won’t be able to make Telesur disappear. If they ban it in Argentina, millions of Argentinians will watch it on the internet, and through social media.
He also argued that Argentina’s decision is part of a “right wing attack” against the network, which he argues “carries the truth (…) and true freedom of expression” for the people of Latin America.
Cabello: Looting Is Not New
PSUV Vice-President Diosdado Cabello downplayed outrage over Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz’s announcement yesterday that 21 looting events had been recorded over the past week throughout the country. Cabello noted that looting is not new:
[Looting] is not new. It’s always happened…
Cabello stressed the fact that aside from not being new, looting also takes on different forms which are themselves not new:
It doesn’t only happen in towns. There are also vehicles that get into accidents. They flip over and people – this isn’t a new thing – the vehicle flips over and people come to pick up whatever’s left there.
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