Venezuela: The murderers cannot make justice

While both the families of the victims and several grassroots and human rights organizations have hoped for the ruling to be carried out for a long time, the ongoing process of exhumation has been challenged by some of the victim’s relatives. Firstly because of the lack of information provided to the families about the actions that the state intends to perform to comply and carry out the sentence, in addition to demand an “active and leading role” for the families throughout the whole process.

In press statements, the Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said her office has made “two thousand proceedings, over a period of three months,” all of which are completely unknown to the mourners. There has been no attempt made to involve the family of the victims or to promote the role of family members during the process of identifying the remains, apart from the bureaucratic call through the media for the delivery of collections at the Attorney’s Office. This contrasts with the exhumations in 1990 when the families, after receiving training, sheltered the site, made anthropometric charts and participated actively in the work of the scientific team, which left an important organizational balance and helped them to overcome the psychological pain.

Furthermore, the families have requested, in addition to the forensic team appointed by the national government, the involvement of an international scientific group with experience in similar cases, backed by human rights organisations. Such a team, which has been used during the identification of bones from massacres in countries like Peru and Argentina, would generate the necessary transparency and confidence in the results of the exhumations.

A third demand is a ban on using the premises and staff of the National Armed Forces for the receipt and handling of the evidence found in La Peste. An official press release from the Attorney’s Office said “it was proposed and there is a strong commitment from the military authorities not only to provide security night and day by guarding the area where exhumations are to be made, but also to provide a storehouse in Fuerte Tiuna [a military facility] to place the remains of the victims and carry out expert investigation with the necessary efficiency and speed”.

In addition, the team put together by the Attorney for the exhumation is composed, among others, of the Director of the General Command of the Army and the General Commander of Core 5 of the National Guard. This situation is absolutely unacceptable. How can the military that committed these murders yesterday, now in government functions, ensure transparency and justice today? The murderers, members of the Armed Forces, cannot be judge and jury of the investigations.

We repudiate the fact that the Ombudsman, Gabriela Ramirez, has uncritically supported the steps made by the Attorney General, becoming his accomplice. The exhumation process has been turned into a media spectacle by the authorities without any involvement of the families of the victims.

We demand that the investigation admits the culpability of the organs of the Armed Forces currently in high positions of power, in the slaughter of the Caracazo.

We deplore that people who in the past have had a fearless attitude to the facts, such as Matías Camuña, commissioner for Justice and Peace in Petare, are now helping to criminalize these requests.

We refute the slanders of the government civil servant Fresia Ipinza against the relatives of the victims, a person with proven involvement in corruption cases at the several institutions where she has worked.

We demand that the military commanders and police reveal the whereabouts of the more than 300 bodies that are not in La Peste and were buried in unknown mass graves.

We are giving a warning about the dangerous precedent that this rigged procedure sets in investigating gross violations of human rights by police and military officials. In cases pending (El Amparo, Yumare and Cantaura among others) and in those which may occur in the future against citizens and/or social activists, state leaders will coordinate the application of justice, having all possible opportunity for altering and tampering with evidence, and will have a guarantee of their impunity.

We express our solidarity with the families of the victims and their requests.

We denounce the support for injustice and criminalization of protest by the state bureaucracy, such as the Attorney General’s Office and the Ombudsman. We reiterate our commitment to who struggle from below to achieve social justice and freedom against the privileges of the ruling class.

This situation is further proof that this government continues the policy of the old Venezuelan state throughout its history: to repress the population and ensure impunity for their executioners.

* Organisations:

Periódico El Libertario

Grupo de Estudio y Trabajo Pueblo y Conciencia (Maracay)

Comité de Víctimas contra la Impunidad – Lara

Unidad Socialista de Izquierda (USI)

P.R.V. – Tercer Camino

Cátedra de Formación Ideológica, Universidad de Yacambú (Lara)

La Vuelta al Conuco

Escuela de Formación Obrera (Maracay)

Justicia y Paz (Aragua)

Centro de Educación y Capacitación para la Vida – CECAVID (Edo Lara)

Asamblea de Ciudadanos “C.D”(Edo Lara)

Cátedra Libre de Derechos Humanos, UCLA (Lara)

Ateneo La Libertaria, Humocaro (Lara)

Kondenados, Colectivo y Banda (Cantaura)

Red Juvenil de Medellín (Colombia)

Periódico “Libertad” (Buenos Aires)

Grupo Cultural “Hij@s del Pueblo” (México)

Cooperativa Cultura Libre (México)

Movimiento Libertario Cubano

* Individuals:

Domingo Alberto Rangel, intelectual y escritor revolucionario venezolano

Hisvet Fernández, profesora universitaria y activista feminista. (CI 4.265.243)

Nelson Garrido, fotógrafo (CI V-5.412.265)

Pablo Gamba, periodista (CI V-6.979.138)

Maria Walter, activista social (CI V-3970313)

Rafael Uzcátegui, defensor de derechos humanos y editor independiente

(CI V-11.599.339)

Cayetano Ramirez (CI V-10.353.293)

Daniel Cabezas Sánchez, estudiante y cantautor (CI V-14.892.698)

Any Alarcón, anarcofeminista (CI V-13.140.586)

Antonino Macro, fotógrafo (Italia)

Yves Coleman, traductor (Francia)

Patrick Rossineri, activista social (Argentina)

Henry Ortega Spina NIE (España): X2429879-K

Jorge Tadeo Vargas, Profesor de educación media y miembro del

Colectivo Marea Creciente (México)

Elda Munich, anarcofeminista DNI Nº: 16.863.710. Rosario (Argentina)

Alicia Zárate, artista plástica y ecologista (Argentina). C.I 5 310 565

Marina Legaz Bursuk, miembro de la Federación Libertaria Argentina (FLA)

Carlos Solero, profesor de sociología y miembro de la Biblioteca

Alberto Ghiraldo, Rosario (Argentina)

Luis Prat, traductor y miembro de Industrial Workers of the World, IWW (USA)

Adapted from a translation by Julio Pacheco