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: April 06, 2017

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Other

Institution(s):University of Carabobo

Region & Country:Americas | Venezuela

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 6, 2017, as students protested around the faculty of engineering at the University of Carabobo in Valencia, Venezuela, police reportedly entered the campus and clashed with student protesters, resulting in at least 27 injuries.

Protesters had gathered on campus to demonstrate against a March 29 ruling by the Supreme Court, which through which it indefinitely assumed the National Assembly’s legislative functions, ostensibly based on accusations that members of opposition parties had been elected to the body improperly. The ruling sparked major controversy in Venezuela and abroad, with critics charging that it would provide President Nicolas Maduro with unchecked executive power. 

Members of the Venezuelan national guard (GNB) and national police (GNP) entered the campus, reportedly without authorization or invitation by university authorities. They reportedly utilized tear gas and shotguns, injuring 27 students, of whom 13 suffered shotgun pellet or gunshot wounds. These included: 

1. Law student Jesus Lara
2. Engineering student Gabriel Laguri
3. Engineering student Jesus Peña 
4. Law student Alberto Garcia 
5. Engineering student Winellez Solarte 
6. Engineering student Victor Rivas 
7. Engineering student Manuel Torres
8. Law student Melbis Chacon
9. Law student Mario Marcucci 
10. Engineering student Ronald Cedeño 
11. Engineering student Juan Mariño
12. Engineering student Jose Medina 
13. Engineering student Ronald Carballo

Another 14 students were treated for contusions or other injuries, including: 

14. Law student Juan Pablo Diaz
15. Law student Carla Torres
16. Engineering student Luis Caricote
17. Engineering student Victoria Arms
18. Engineering student Alba Urando
19. Engineering student Marialet Acevedo
20. Education Student Jonatan Ortega 
21. Education Student Edson Conde
22. Yendre Carrillo
23. Jean Carlos Fantori
24. Luis Velasquez
25. Freddy Velasquez
26. Edson Amoro
27. Eduardo Franco

Scholars at Risk is concerned about entry of military and police forces onto campus, and the use of force against students, in an apparent attempt to prevent the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Venezuela is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. State officials have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association, and to refrain from interfering with these rights, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly.