Stu­dents again take to streets as death toll jumps to 37 in Venezuela

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - HAN­NAH DREIER CARA­CAS, 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.

FER­NANDO LLANO, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Na­tional po­lice stand ready to launch tear gas at stu­dent pro­test­ers out­side the Cen­tral Univer­sity of Venezuela in Cara­cas on Thurs­day.

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