Students again take to streets as death toll jumps to 37 in Venezuela
— Students held demonstrations across Caracas Thursday as a two-month-old protest movement that shows no signs of letting up claimed more lives.
At the Central University of Venezuela, soldiers bathed hundreds of student protesters in tear gas. Many of the protesters stayed put, and medics in gas masks attended to others with bloodied faces and limbs.
Students from another university marched peacefully to deliver a petition to the office of the country’s Catholic bishops, asking the Pope to speak out against the violence and the government’s steps toward authoritarianism.
Gunfire erupted at a student gathering in El Tigre, a city southeast of Caracas, leaving Juan Lopez, 33, dead and three others injured, according to the chief prosecutor’s office.
According to preliminary reports, an assailant fired at Lopez toward the end of the meeting and then fled on a motorcycle. Lopez was the president of a university federation.
The student leader’s death brought to at least 37 the number killed in Venezuela’s ongoing political turmoil.
Earlier Thursday, authorities announced a 38-year-old police officer in the central state of Carabobo had died of his injuries after being shot during a Wednesday protest that had hundreds of thousands of people on the street nationwide. A 17 year-old was also killed during the day’s protests.
Hundreds more have been wounded — no small matter in a country with crippling medical shortages. And more than 1,000 have been arrested.
Protesters are demanding immediate presidential elections. President Nicolas Maduro accuses the opposition of attempting a coup, and has responded with an initiative to rewrite the constitution.
National police stand ready to launch tear gas at student protesters outside the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas on Thursday.