Thugs Open Fire on Venezuelan Student Protestors

Rick Moran
Unidentified gunmen opened fire on students returning from a demonstration in Caracas injuring 8 with "one by gunfire" according to officials:

Photographers for The Associated Press saw at least four gunmen -- their faces covered by ski masks or T-shirts -- firing handguns at the anti-Chavez crowd.

Terrified students ran through the campus as ambulances arrived. National Guard troops gathered outside the Central University of Venezuela, the nation's largest and a center for opposition to Chavez's government. Venezuelan law bars state security forces from entering the campus, but Luis Acuna, the minister of higher education, said they could be called in if the university requests them.

Antonio Rivero, director of Venezuela's Civil Defense agency, told local Union Radio that at least eight people were injured, including one by gunfire, and that no one had been killed. Earlier, Rivero said he had been informed that one person had died in the violence.

The violence broke out after anti-Chavez demonstrators -- led by university students -- marched peacefully to the Supreme Court to protest constitutional changes that Venezuelans will consider in a December referendum. The amendments would abolish presidential term limits, give the president control over the Central Bank and let him create new provinces governed by handpicked officials.
There is no doubt that Hugo Chavez is popular among the legions of desperately poor Venezuelans who, like most of the poor in Latin America, have suffered from the effects of crony capitalism and corrupt kleptocratic governments. 

And it is also true that the opposition in Venezuela is extremely fragmented and disorganized; too many parties, too little cooperation.

But Chavez's drive to a socialist dictatorship - fueled by oil money and a cult of personality - will most likely not improve the lot of the poor while enriching Chavez cronies and impoverishing the middle class. This is why 80,000 people turned out for a mid week demonstration against these extraconstitutional measures.

But unless the opposition can unite before the referendum in December that will make these changes legal, it seems clear that freedom in Venezuela will disappear, awaiting an awakening by the people that Hugo Chavez will end up ruining their country.
  
Unidentified gunmen opened fire on students returning from a demonstration in Caracas injuring 8 with "one by gunfire" according to officials:

Photographers for The Associated Press saw at least four gunmen -- their faces covered by ski masks or T-shirts -- firing handguns at the anti-Chavez crowd.

Terrified students ran through the campus as ambulances arrived. National Guard troops gathered outside the Central University of Venezuela, the nation's largest and a center for opposition to Chavez's government. Venezuelan law bars state security forces from entering the campus, but Luis Acuna, the minister of higher education, said they could be called in if the university requests them.

Antonio Rivero, director of Venezuela's Civil Defense agency, told local Union Radio that at least eight people were injured, including one by gunfire, and that no one had been killed. Earlier, Rivero said he had been informed that one person had died in the violence.

The violence broke out after anti-Chavez demonstrators -- led by university students -- marched peacefully to the Supreme Court to protest constitutional changes that Venezuelans will consider in a December referendum. The amendments would abolish presidential term limits, give the president control over the Central Bank and let him create new provinces governed by handpicked officials.
There is no doubt that Hugo Chavez is popular among the legions of desperately poor Venezuelans who, like most of the poor in Latin America, have suffered from the effects of crony capitalism and corrupt kleptocratic governments. 

And it is also true that the opposition in Venezuela is extremely fragmented and disorganized; too many parties, too little cooperation.

But Chavez's drive to a socialist dictatorship - fueled by oil money and a cult of personality - will most likely not improve the lot of the poor while enriching Chavez cronies and impoverishing the middle class. This is why 80,000 people turned out for a mid week demonstration against these extraconstitutional measures.

But unless the opposition can unite before the referendum in December that will make these changes legal, it seems clear that freedom in Venezuela will disappear, awaiting an awakening by the people that Hugo Chavez will end up ruining their country.