Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse student protesters who turned out by the tens of thousands in Caracas Nov. 1 to protest constitutional reforms that would permit Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to run for re-election indefinitely. Chanting “Freedom! Freedom!,” protesters marched on the National Electoral Council (CNE) to deliver a document calling for the referendum on the reforms, scheduled for Dec. 2, to be postponed. Authorities broke up the protest outside the CNE headquarters, where six police officers and one student were reported injured. Protesters said the 69 amendments drafted by Venezuela’s Chavista-dominated National Assembly would derail democracy. But as the march passed through the poorer area of Parque Central, the protest was met with spontaneous cries from Chavez supporters of “Chavez is not going” and “They will not return”—a reference to the political leaders of the pre-Chavez era. (AP, Nov. 3; VenezuelAnalysis, Nov. 2)
In protests at the University of Zulia in Maracaibo the following day, one student, Flavia Piscapia, 21, was killed and four others injured when a gunman fired on the demonstration from a passing car. One of the gunmen was also reported killed in the confrontation that followed. The Maracaibo protests were over a delay in student elections at the University of Zulia. (El Nacional, Venezuela, Nov. 2)
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