Local media just confirmed the death of two law enforcement agents, one from the National Police, 25, and another from Táchira State Police, 20, after they were run over by a public transport unit allegedly hijacked by Instituto Universitario de Tecnología Agroindustrial Región Los Andes (IUT) student, William Parada, now in custody.
According to reports, student protests broke out this morning around the IUT, in La Concordia neighborhood of San Cristobal, due to the government mandated hike in public transport fare enacted this week, prompting local police to barricade access to the main streets adjacent to the University, which includes the San Cristobal Bus Terminal, in order to contain the protests.
Reports of what followed are still murky, but sources claim that a group of students in ski mask stole an Expresos Barinas bus and drove it kamikaze style into the police barricade, leaving two dead officers and four more with “considerable injuries.”
So far, the PoliTáchira Twitter account has a tally of 53 people in custody, following this morning’s events. National Guard troops have been deployed, classes have been suspended in IUT as well as UNET and UCAT, and the Táchira State transport worker’s union has announced it will suspend all operations until further notice.
Not surprisingly, the blame game has already begun, with pro-government outlets blaming Uribe-bankrolled Colombian paramilitaries for the violence, and Táchira Governor vilifying students for what is, objectively, a condemnable tragedy resulting in the loss of two young lives.
To speak of accountability in this context is both heartbreaking and brutal. Random acts of violence are totally unacceptable, regardless of motive, and today’s assailants must face up to their crimes. Two families have lost loved ones. Ultimately, though, it’s a Government that has allowed social unrest to reach this boiling point through deliberate inaction that should be criminally liable as well.