The night after Venezuelan forces soaked protesters’ barracks in tear gas in the far western city of San Cristobal, the clashes there have again turned deadly. Late Monday night, prominent student leader Daniel Tinoco was shot in the chest and killed.
In a sign of just how essential social media has become to protesters in a nation of strictly-controlled media, opposition politician Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of San Cristobal, announced the killing on Twitter. “I’m confirming the sad death of student Daniel Tinoco,” he tweeted at 9 p.m. in an update that soon lapped up 2,400 retweets. In a later update, he said “armed groups” were behind the killing.
The genesis of the Venezuelan protests, which began in early February, lies in the country’s disintegrating security. It has a murder rate of 39 per 100,000 — one of the five highest in the globe. Discontent over that matter ignited into street protests last month following an attempted sexual assault in western Venezuela.
But the reasons many Venezuelans are unhappy with the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected on Hugo Chavez’s politics, extend beyond the nation’s crumbling security. It also has to do with economics. The government has instituted price controls that are intended to help the poor — but it’s in part led to inflation soaring to a two-decade high of 54 percent. While apagones — blackouts — continue to hit the nation, there have been shortages of toilet paper and sugar.
Now, the death of 24-year-old Tinoco, a charismatic and portly student who frequently gave interviews and often manned the baricades of San Cristobal, marks another killing in a domestic conflict that has already claimed dozens of lives. After the murder, protesters deluged Twitter with startling images of Ticoco’s death, and the crowds that surrounded his corpse.
(WARNING: One of the images below may be disturbing because of its graphic nature.)
— Miguel Hernandez.. (@MiguelArturoH) March 11, 2014
IMAGEN FUERTE OTRO MUERTO MAS DEL REGIMEN DE MADURO.. estudiante asesinado en TACHIRA Daniel Tinoco pic.twitter.com/2zlzUSTY1o
— CAMPAÑA ADMIRABLE (@ejhm18) March 11, 2014