New Evidence Points to Protesters in Death of Venezuelan Violinist

New evidence released Friday suggests Venezuelan opposition demonstrators may be responsible for the death of Armando Cañizales at a protest last week.

By Lucas Koerner
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Armando Cañizales was killed by an eight-millimeter ball bearing allegedly fired by fellow opposition demonstrators. (FundaMusical)
Armando Cañizales was killed by an eight-millimeter ball bearing allegedly fired by fellow opposition demonstrators. (FundaMusical)

Caracas, May 8, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – New evidence released Friday suggests Venezuelan opposition demonstrators may be responsible for the death of Armando Cañizales at a protest last week. 

On May 3, the 18 year-old violinist and member of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra was shot dead during an anti-government demonstration in the southeastern Caracas neighborhood of Las Mercedes

While opposition spokespeople initially blamed the death on a tear gas grenade used by state security forces, a subsequent autopsy revealed Thursday that the youth died of an 8-millimeter ball bearing lodged in his neck. 

Six identical projectiles have likewise been discovered at the scene of the protest, nearby to where the National Guard personnel were positioned.

According to the results of a nitrate ion test conducted by Venezuela’s forensic police, the metallic spheres contained traces of gunpowder, indicating that they were “fired towards the National Guard with a nonconventional firearm,” confirmed Venezuelan Vice-President Tareck El Aissami on Friday. 

The new evidence bolsters the hypothesis that Cañizales may in fact have been killed while in the “line of fire of those who were shooting at the National Guard," said the VP.

The revelations stand at odds with the dominant media narrative of Cañizales’ death at the hands of state security forces, which has been by fueled by viral video of the incident taken by Caraota Digital journalist Luis Olvarrieta. The video footage shows the confrontation between the protesters and authorities but right at the moment that Cañizales raises his arms before being shot the clip jumps to the youth being rushed to the hospital. It has been suggested that the widely circulated video has been edited to allegedly conceal the true cause of death.

The killing of the young musician and member of the Venezuelan government’s flagship musical program has sparked outrage from leading international cultural figures.

On Thursday, renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel – himself the musical director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra – penned a Facebook post blaming Cañizales’ death on government “repression”, declaring, “enough is enough”. 

The youth’s killing was likewise condemned by Puerto Rican hip-hop artist Rene Perez Joglar, better known as “Residente”, who took to Twitter Friday to denounce the Venezuelan government’s alleged responsibility for the incident.

“Latin America is incomplete without Armando Cañizales. The guilty repressors are going to fall with all of the weight of history #StrengthVenezuela,” he wrote. 

Neither Dudamel nor Residente have yet commented on the latest forensic evidence revealed in the ongoing homicide investigation.

Forty-two people have been killed across Venezuela as anti-government protests demanding the ouster of the Maduro government enter their sixth week. Fifteen deaths have been attributed to the actions of opposition demonstrators, while five people have been confirmed dead at the hands of authorities.