The Dallas Morning News

Student killed in protest

20-year-old shot in neck; both sides trade blame for violence

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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.

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