The Dallas Morning News
Student killed in protest
20-year-old shot in neck; both sides trade blame for violence
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday were investigating the death of a university student killed by gunfire at a protest against President Nicolas Maduro, as opposition leaders mapped out their next steps to push for new elections and government officials held a gathering to drum up state support.
Daniel Queliz, 20, was killed late Monday after being shot in the neck in Valencia, a city east of Caracas where students have actively participated in the protests that erupted April 1 following a Supreme Court decision to strip Congress of its last remaining powers — a decision later reversed.
It was not immediately clear where the bullet came from, though opposition leaders quickly decried the death as another example of the Venezuelan government’s excessive use of force in countering protests. Security forces have been using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, while several opposition leaders have been roughed up and bloodied while participating in demonstrations.
Government officials blame the opposition for inciting violence and detained 18 people Monday.
Human rights organizations and countries including the United States are calling on Venezuela to allow protesters to gather and refrain from unnecessary use of force, adding to mounting international pressure for the Andean nation’s government to hold elections and respect democratic institutions.
“The existence of isolated acts of violence during protests cannot justify a blank restriction of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression or the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against demonstrators,” the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said Tuesday.
Queliz’s father told local media his son was at Monday’s demonstration “like any other youth,” when gunshots were fired and people began running.
“I need an answer from the highest level of the state,” Alexander Queliz said of his son’s death.