Student Demonstration Turns Deadly in Venezuela

October 20, 2016

What started out as a relatively calm student protest in Venezuela on the afternoon of February 12th turned into a day of grieving for three Venezuelan families whose loved ones perished in an effort to affect change in light of the continuous corruption that marks the fabric of the country. This march was the most recent in a series of manifestations rallying against the ineffective economic policies of President Nicolás Maduro. In a country where people have to prepare themselves an average of eight hours for a standard trip to the supermarket, it is no surprise that Maduro’s approval ratings have been dismal, and calls for his resignation have been surging throughout the nation.1

After some 10,000 protesters dispersed from the area of the march, some stayed behind to engage in attacks against the surrounding security forces. It was at that point that the protest turned fatal; armed men on motorcycles fired shots into the crowd, killing three men. The casualties included 24-year old Bassil da Costa, an anti-government protester, who was shot in the head; Juan Montoya, a government activist, who took part in a pro-government rally; and an unidentified man fatally wounded in anti-government protests on the eastern side of Caracas.

In response to the casualties, President Nicolás Maduro was quick to project the blame away from himself and onto the self-proclaimed “neo-fascist upsurge” that penetrates the country. In a TV and radio broadcast transmitted throughout the country, he warned his people, “There will be no coup d’etat in Venezuela, you can be absolutely sure of that. Let the whole world know that.” 

Venezuela has been pummeled with grotesque inflation rates; it has the highest rate of the region, standing at 56.2% last year. The country is also characterized by its shortage of hard currency and high rates of homicide.2

While Maduro’s government cites “saboteurs” and “profit-hungry corrupt businessmen” as the sources for the grievances of the Venezuelan people (its students in particular), opponents of the regime are adamant in their call for hope and imperative changes for the prosperity of the nation. In the words of Caracas mayor “Antonio Ledezma, “You have to know, Mr. Maduro, that whatever you do, what started today will not stop until change is achieved in peace and with democracy for all Venezuelans.” It is this steadfast proclamation of peace that will gradually yet undeniably be a catalyst for change in the years to come for a nation so riddled with injustice.



1. Pardo, Daniel. "¿Por qué hay tanta fila en Venezuela?" BBC Mundo. 5 February 2014. n. pag. Web. 13 February 2014. 

2. "Venezuela Students Killed in Protests." Sky News. 12 February 2014. n. pag. Web. 13 February 2014. 

About Author(s)

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Whitney Allen
Whitney is an intern at Panoramas. She is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in Spanish with a minor in Portuguese and Certificates in Latin American Studies and Global Studies.