SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 30, 2015

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Zulia University (LUZ)

Region & Country:Americas | Venezuela

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 30, 2015, one student was killed and another injured in a fight between pro- and anti- government students on the campus of Zulia University, apparently triggered by conflict over student party elections.

Students had gathered on campus for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s election of its delegates to the Venezuelan Federation of University Students, when a conflict broke out between a group of pro-government, socialist students, and a group of student supporters of the opposition.  The conflict escalated and eventually became violent.  Eleazer Hernández, a 22-year-old law student, was pushed into a glass billboard and bled to death after being cut by a shard of broken glass.  Carlos Palma, an economics student was then shot in the leg — he survived his injuries.  As of this report, investigations of the incident were ongoing.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence on university campuses.  While students have the right to free expression, that right does not extend to violence — on-campus expression must be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with university values including social responsibility.  In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, student violence undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy. State and university authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of the university space from intimidation and violence, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable.