With Venezuela stirring from the death of 14-year-old Kluiverth Roa at the hands of the Bolivarian National Guard, a human rights organization notes that police homicide of minors increased 55.5% in 2014, and appears to continue to be on the rise.
According to the organization Cecodap, which tracks police violence in the socialist nation, police killed 55% more minors in 2014 than 2013. Of those, 90% of the victims were males between the ages of 13 and 17. Nine-hundred twelve minors were the victims of homicide in Venezuela in 2014.
Of the 912 minors killed in Venezuela last year, 13.8% were killed by police: 126 of them. Fernando Pereira, an officer at Cecocap, told Venezuelan newspaper El Universal: “This demands the resolution of the Ministers of Defense regarding the use of lethal weapons at protests to be submitted to revisions. Security officers should use dialogue to resolve conflicts. What occurred in San Cristeobal with the 14-year-old boy was an abuse of power; the officer acted with fury towards the youth.”
Fourteen-year-old Roa was walking home from school on Tuesday in the western regional capital San Cristóbal when a police officer stopped him. Witnesses say a disturbed Roa yelled “stopped the repression!” at the officer before being slapped in the head and, upon falling, shot in the head at point-blank range. The officer was caught on video fleeing the scene while Roa bled to death on the asphalt [Warning: Graphic Video]:
Witnesses told journalists that Roa was not participating in the anti-socialist protest occurring that day in the city; he merely walked through it because it traversed his route back from school. Some witnesses have claimed that Roa also asked the officer for clemency before being shot.
Twenty-three-year-old Javier Mora Ortíz, a Bolivarian National Guard officer, has been arrested after being identified my numerous witnesses as Roa’s killer. The Venezuelan government claims that Mora has pleaded for forgiveness from Roa’s family while under detention, and that he will be brought to justice. Many doubt the intentions of the Nicolás Maduro regime, as San Cristóbal has been under chronic government abuse for more than a year and Maduro continues to organize rallies and deliver speeches attacking anyone who disagrees with his socialist vision for Venezuela as a golpista (coup conspirator). Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of San Cristóbal, has been behind bars since March 2014 for allegedly aiding the opposition.
While President Maduro made minimal remarks regarding Roa’s death, he announced yesterday the organization of a large “anti-imperialist” rally on Friday, to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the “Caracazo,” a revolt against the government in 1989 largely triggered by the nation’s dire economic situation at the time. Experts have compared the current climate in Venezuela to that of the Caracazo era, as thousands routinely organize protests to call for an easing on Maduro’s rigorous price controls and a rationing system that has made finding household items such as detergent and flour a near impossibility.