EspañolA group of armed men broke into the headquarters of Los Andes University (ULA) in Mérida, 600 kilometers southwest of Caracas, on Monday, March 2. They opened fire on students and faculty, who hid in bathrooms and other areas to avoid being shot.
The attackers reportedly rode in on motorcycles, had an armed escort, and wore red shirts.
“Once again, the pro-government armed gangs (commonly referred to as “colectivos“) want to silence the students, but despite these actions, we will stay on the street,” said Jorge Arellano, president of the Federation of University Centers-ULA.
— Héctor Peña (@Hector_ManuelP) March 3, 2015
“Today, at the School of Law at #ULA Mérida, hooded men opened fire on the university community. Unbelievable. #2M.”
Tensions also rose early Monday morning at the headquarters of the ULA in San Cristóbal, Táchira, where students clashed with members of the National Guard (GNB) and a group of hooded men who accompanied them, leaving 19 injured.
Students say the GNB has kept their university under siege for over a week, after demonstrations were held in response to the police killing of 14-year-old Kluiverth Roa on February 24. “If we had not been here, they would have burned the school down,” said Yessika Aranguren, a student at ULA-Táchira.
Students have also said the GNB’s attacks have been systematic, as if on a “schedule.” The GNB “start at 9 p.m. and return at 11 p.m, with more soldiers to toss [tear] gas and [spray] rubber bullets,” a student who has spent the last seven days inside the school told Venezuelan daily El Nacional.
— César (@SandovalMCesar) February 26, 2015
“#26F GNB toss tear gas at ULA #Táchira headquarters.”
Members of the Police Brigade Operations of Politáchira reportedly confronted a group of student protesters at the Institute of Technology Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo. Meanwhile, the Army responded to a group of protesters near Plaza Miranda, who called for the resignation of Governor José Vielma Mora.
The city of San Cristobal was the epicenter of anti-government protests that took place during the early months of 2014.