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Dominican Police Kill Student During Budget Deficit Protest

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 27:  Members of a Dominican riot police unit attend festivities during a parade to mark the Dominican Republic's 168th anniversary of its independence from Haitian rule on February 27, 2012 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic, which became independent in 1844, has prospered in recent years due to a robust agricultural sector and a large tourism industry. The Dominican Republic shares the same island, Hispaniola, with its poorer neighbor Haiti.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 27: Members of a Dominican riot police unit attend festivities during a parade to mark the Dominican Republic's 168th anniversary of its independence from Haitian rule on February 27, 2012 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic, which became independent in 1844, has prospered in recent years due to a robust agricultural sector and a large tourism industry. The Dominican Republic shares the same island, Hispaniola, with its poorer neighbor Haiti. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  (2012 Getty Images)

A student protest is the Dominican Republic turned deadly when police opened fire of demonstrators, killing a 21-year old medical student.

Witnesses said that William Florian Ramírez, a medical student at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, was not taking part in the demonstrations, but was simply passing by when he got caught in the fray.

“He was shot in the back,” said Daphne Valera, who said she saw the shooting, according to the New York Times. “It was around 1 p.m. He was just standing there in the street on campus.”

Dominican police spokesperson Diego Pesqueira said that authorities were looking into the shooting and that of another student who was injured during the protest. The protests allegedly turned violent after young men in masks began to throw rocks at the police.

University officials suspended classes for the school of 180,000 people and student leaders condemned the attacks, but added that they did not expect public anger to subside.

The protests at the university were part of a larger national movement over tax increases that angered many civic groups who claim the rises are a product of corruption of the administration of former Dominican President Leonel Fernández. Danilo Medina assumed the presidency of the Dominican republic in May, but Fernandez’s political party still controls both houses of the legislature.

“This country is on the verge of bankruptcy because they took every penny,” said Jorgy Cruz Soto, the owner of a production company in Santo Domingo, adding, “We are very close to a civil revolution.”

Lawmakers in the Dominican Republic claimed they had no choice but to pass the tax bill, which hopes to close a $4.6 billion budget deficit by upping the country’s sales tax to 18 percent from 16 percent.

Students want 5 percent of the budget to be funneled into the university.

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