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Venezuelan students demand end to ‘deadly force’ order


Angry Venezuelan students marched to the justice ministry Wednesday to demand it revoke a resolution allowing police to use deadly force at protests after an officer was charged with killing a 14-year-old boy.

Around 50 students converged on the ministry chanting tributes to Kluiverth Roa, a high-school student who was fatally shot in the head Tuesday at a protest in the western city of San Cristobal, the cradle of demonstrations that swept Venezuela last year and left 43 people dead.

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

Prosecutors accused a policeman of killing the boy and charged him with intentional homicide.

The student protesters submitted a petition to the justice ministry calling for the repeal of Resolution 8610 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 warned.

Elsewhere in the capital 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 Nicolas 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.

Like his late mentor Hugo Chavez, Maduro regularly denounces alleged coup plots and assassination attempts against him.


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