Venezuelans protest after teenager is killed by police

Sporadic clashes erupt day after 14-year-old boy is shot dead at anti-government rally in San Cristobal.

Student protesters submitted a petition to the justice ministry calling for the repeal of Resolution 8610 [Reuters]

Protests have been held in different parts of Venezuela after a policeman shot dead a teenager during a demonstration against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

In the capital, Caracas, dozens of students marched to the justice ministry on Wednesday to demand it revoke a resolution allowing police to use deadly force at protests.

High school student Kluiverth Roa was fatally shot in the head on Tuesday, in the western city of San Cristobal, the cradle of demonstrations that swept Venezuela last year and left 43 people dead.

In the city, dozens of masked protesters angered by Roa’s killing faced off with security forces in streets blocked with rubbish and tyres as his funeral was held.

Roa was the first person to die in protest-related violence since the defence ministry in January adopted its controversial “Resolution 8610”, which allows the security forces to use deadly force to control public demonstrations.

The student protesters submitted a petition to the justice ministry calling to repeal of the resolution and the sacking of the director of the national police, said student leader Hasler Iglesias.

“If the government continues its abuses, continues violating the constitution and human rights, the student movement is going to continue resoundingly in the streets, demanding respect,” Iglesias said.

Prosecutors accused a policeman of killing the 14-year-old and charged him with intentional homicide. 

Police officer Javier Mora Ortiz confessed to firing on Roa with plastic ammunition, officials told the Associated Press. Roa’s family has said the boy’s autopsy suggested it was a live round.

Ruling party officials, including Maduro, condemned the killing.

“If any member of the security forces commits a crime, especially those in charge of maintaining public order, you must know that I’ll be the first to have them arrested,” Maduro told the press.  

‘Innocent bystander’

Schools and many shops stayed closed in San Cristobal on Wednesday, as mourners attended Roa’s funeral. His father told mourners that his son neither supported nor opposed the government but was an innocent bystander. 

In the mountain town of Merida, students clashed with police, who fired plastic ammunition. At least four protesters were seriously injured, Andes University spokesman Nelson Espinoza said.

Meanwhile, in Caracas, a small group of women dressed in white marched in protest at Roa’s death.

They included opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, who marched alongside the mother of Geraldine Moreno, a student protester killed last year, and the mother of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Lopez was jailed in February 2014 on charges of inciting the violence that swept the country at protests over violent crime, soaring prices, and shortages of basic goods.

Since then, Venezuela’s economic woes have steadily deepened.

President Maduro’s approval rating has fallen to around 20 percent as his government struggles to rein in annual inflation of 68.5 percent, end the chronic shortages and exit a recession exacerbated by the falling price of oil, the country’s main export.

Maduro has been accused of cracking down on the opposition after the arrest last week of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government.

Maduro regularly denounces alleged coup plots and assassination attempts against him.

Source: News Agencies