Venezuela’s Security Forces: A Killer Elite Beyond the Law
The State Security forces of Cuba's Castro dictatorship has been murdering Cubans with impunity for more than a half century. In Venezuela, their latest conquest, the Castro regime is doing the same.
Venezuela’s Security Forces: A Killer Elite Beyond the LawAs violent protests return, the death toll is down, but families are struggling hopelessly to find justice for their loved ones killed in demonstrations earlier this year.
Longstanding tradition in Venezuela calls for “Judas burning” on Easter Sunday. People make giant dolls out of old clothes and set them ablaze, remembering the betrayal of Christ. Often, Judas is given the face of a contemporary politician, and this year effigies of President Nicolás Maduro went up in flames amid resounding cheers in the opposition bastions of Caracas, Carabobo, Táchira and Mérida.
After a few weeks of relative calm, once again those streets are filled with teargas and the police are blasting away at demonstrators with plastic and metal pellets. But, in truth, the crowds are small, injuries now are few and even the angriest have grown weary of a game that seems to be going nowhere.
For almost six weeks, from February 12 to March 24, there was about one death a day in anti-government demonstrations, 39 people killed altogether. In the four weeks since, two more have died. The military is encouraging the public to turn the page, as if all the deaths were somehow accidental; as if those responsible will be punished; as if Venezuela’s massive economic and political problems are on their way to being solved. But, of course, none of those propositions is true.
When Gen. Vladimir Padrino, the powerful head of the Strategic Operational Command, told a television audience last month that “no soldiers have received orders to harm anyone, nor to harass or end any Venezuelan’s life,” Rosa Orozco barely paid attention. She was still in mourning for her daughter.
Twenty-three-year-old Geraldine Moreno had been protesting peacefully in Carabobo—a state in the north of Venezuela—when National Guard troops arrived and fired metal shotgun pellets at the demonstrators.
“They came riding on 10 motorcycles, two officers on each one,” Orozco remembers. “They had the uniform, the mandatory weaponry, and there was even a woman among those who shot.”
The guns are meant to be fired from a distance so the birdshot spreads out in a wide pattern after it leaves the barrel, and that’s what happened at first. The pellets hit Moreno in her face—not the torso, not her legs—and then when she was bleeding on the ground “an officer shot from four inches away,” her mother says, so the pellets never spread and the whole cartridge blew clean through Moreno’s face. She instantly lost her left eye and eventually died on February 22.
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