14-year-old Kluiverth Roa was shot in the head on Tuesday on his way home from school in San Cristóbal, Venezuela. Roa’s way home from school required him to pass through an anti-socialist protest; he was stopped by police almost immediately and shot in the head after witnesses say he yelled “stop the repression!”
San Cristóbal, Táchira, has become the focal point of much of Venezuela’s struggle against the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro. On Tuesday, residents of the city assembled yet again for a protest against “inflation, the scarcity of basic goods, and [political] repression.”
La Nación, a Venezuelan newspaper based in San Cristóbal, reports that Roa was not in the area to participate in the protest, but walking home from school when a Bolivarian National Guard officer stopped him and, according to witnesses, slapped him in the head. Upon falling to the ground, witnesses saw the officer shoot Roa in the head and flee.
Witnesses captured Roa’s final moments on video [WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES]:
Some witnesses told journalists they heard part of the exchange between Roa and the officer, and it was after Roa exclaimed, “stop the repression,” that he was assaulted and ultimately killed.
The officer who shot Roa, seen fleeing the scene rapidly in the above video, has been identified as 23-year-old Javier Osias Mora Ortíz. While Venezuelan authorities claim the officer will be brought to justice, little information has surfaced regarding his whereabouts.
President Nicolás Maduro responded to the death on national television by blaming the protestors for inciting violence. According to a transcription of his remarks by Spanish newspaper ABC, Maduro told the Venezuelan public: “All preliminary information with witnesses… indicates that this was an act of violence occurring as a group of young men with capes were engaging in protest activities and the generation of violence.”
Following his statement on Roa, Maduro was seen laughing heartily in conversation with Sports Minister Antonio Álvarez and working to produce the singing segment of his television program, In Contact with Maduro.
Speaking to La Nación, Roa’s father Erick Roa attempted to describe his grief:
This is too big a loss for me, for my family. He was the youngest of my three children. He was a boy– too tall for his age and that’s why he was at the Román Cárdenas basketball school– but he was a boy, my boy. I think that, with what has happened– with what is happening– Venezuela will react, it will have to react. And if it was the government, this won’t stay like this. I am making a call to the authorities to clarify this and may whoever has to fall, fall.
Lilian Tintori, wife of political prisoner Leopoldo López, has organized a protest this week along with deposed deputy Maria Corina Machado, calling for Venezuelan mothers to flood the streets of Caracas calling for justice in the Roa case. The protest would follow an especially active week for the Venezuelan opposition. After a rally calling for the release of López on the one-year anniversary of his arrest, the Maduro regime responded with the arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who remains behind bars under a charge of conspiracy to foment a coup.