A student was shot and killed, apparently by police, at a protest against tax hikes and university privatization plans at the Dominican Republic’s largest public university.
William Florian Ramírez, identified in some news reports as Wilfredo or Willy, was a 22-year-old medical student at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, where the protests broke out on Thursday morning. According to witnesses, he was not a participant in the demonstration.
The students were protesting a newly-enacted increase in sales taxes from 16 to 18 percent, as well as plans to privatize the university, which enrolls nearly two hundred thousand students. Activists charge that the nation’s budget deficit is a result of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling Dominican Liberation Party.
Some demonstrators threw rocks at police during the clash, as police fired tear gas and automatic weapons on the crowd. Police say they have video evidence that at least one protester fired a gun at their officers. (Spanish language link.)
One union leader said the fatal shot came from an AK-47, and activists said other students were also injured in the incident. (Spanish-language link. Warning: Graphic images.) A bullet taken from Florian Ramirez’s body has been sent for testing, and police say they are investigating the incident.
Classes at the university have been suspended through Saturday. (Spanish language link.)