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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why are they shooting Venezuela's youth in the head?

"Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, Carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" -  Robert Redman, February 12, 2014

Vigil for Victims of Violence in Venezuela since #12F

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter analyzed what is taking place in Venezuela looking at it through a Cuban context. Below is a closer look at Venezuelans shot in the head since February 12, 2014. The Venezuelan opposition has rightfully focused its attention on the Castro regime's presence in Venezuela and their tactics of repression and control, but should also look at another ally of the Maduro regime, the Iranians who used terror to quell student protests in 2009 using snipers and motorized paramilitary units. 

Below is a partial list of people shot in the head during the protests in Venezuela since February 12, 2014:

Bassil Alejandro Dacosta
 Bassil Alejandro Dacosta was shot in the head in Caracas on February 12, 2014 from shots fired by a group of police men and his killing was captured from different angles on three different cameras. He was 24 years old.

Robert Redman, circled wearing a cap
Robert Redman, in the picture above carrying shooting victim, Bassil Alejandro Dacosta on February 12, 2014 was himself shot in the head and killed later that same day in Caracas but not before tweeting: "Today I was hit with a rock in the back, a helmet in my nose. I swallowed tear-gas, Carried the kid who died, and what did you do?" He was 31 years old.

 Génesis Carmona (on the right holding poster)
 Génesis Carmona was shot in the head in the city of Valencia in the state of Carabobo on February 18, 2014 and died a day later from her injuries. In the last picture taken of her before being shot she is holding up a poster with two other women that reads:  "God's time is perfect but if we don't go out into the streets, the time of Maduro will be ETERNAL." She was 22 years old.

Geraldine Moreno
Geraldine Moreno was shot in the head with buckshot on February 19, 2014 in Tazajal, located in Naguanagua, in the state of Carabobo while taking part in a protest and in one of her last tweets on February 17th explained what motivated her to take part in the demonstrations: "No one sends me I go because I want to defend my Venezuela." She died from her injuries on Saturday, February 22, 2014. She was 23 years old.
Anthony Rojas
In the evening hours of March 18, 2014 Anthony Rojas died of a gunshot wound to the face. He was a second semester student of mechanical engineering at the University of Tachira (UNET). He died in a presumed shootout near a shop in the Diamante sector of Táriba. It was learned that Rojas was in the commercial establishment buying drinks with other youth when motorized units passed by fired and into the place. He was eighteen years old.
Wilfredo Rey

 Bus driver Wilfredo Rey, 31, died on March 21, 2014 after being shot in the head during a confrontation between demonstrators and hooded gunmen in the western city of San Cristobal in Tachira. He was not involved in the protests. Married, father of three small children. He was 32 years old.

Adriana Urquiola
On March 23, 2014 Adriana Urquiola was shot twice, once in the head in Nuevos Teques. She was five months pregnant and worked as an interpreter on Venevisión News. She was 28 years old. She and her husband got off a bus due to a barricade and were going to catch a taxi when the shooting occurred.

Filippo Sevillano, president of the Student Center at the University of Margarita (Unimar), was shot in the head on the night of April 1, 2014 during a protest on Jóvito Villalba Avenue, in front of the Rattan Plaza commercial center.  He has been operated on and is currently hospitalized. He is 27 years old.

Out of the eight shot in the head, five were young people openly in opposition to the Maduro government and protesting when they were shot. Average age of the victims is 26 years old. The other three were not participating in the protests but were in the vicinity and happened to fit the profile: young and gainfully employed or a student. Is it just a coincidence? Who benefits from targeting young protesters and creating a climate of terror where people fear to go out and exercise their right to peaceful protest? Is it just a coincidence that an ally of the Maduro regime, Iran, used a similar tactic against student demonstrators in the Green Movement in 2009?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Venezuela: Amnesty denounces killings and torture calls for nonviolence

Venezuela: Political spiral of violence a threat to the rule of law

by Amnesty International 
So far 37 people have lost their lives and more than 550 have been injured in Venezuela since protest started in early February.© Carlos Becerra
Venezuela risks one of the worst threats to the rule of law in decades if the different political forces do not commit to fully respecting human rights, according to a new Amnesty International report on the current crisis in the country.

The report, Venezuela: Human Rights at risk amid protests, documents allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of the massive public demonstrations since early February.

“The country runs the risk of descending into a spiral of violence unless steps are taken to bring the conflicting parties around the table. This can only happen if both sides fully respect human rights and the rule of law. Unless this happens, the death toll will continue to rise with ordinary people bearing the brunt,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

So far 37 people have lost their lives and more than 550 have been injured including at least 120 through the use of firearms. According to figures released by the Office of the Attorney General on 27 March 2,157 have been detained during the protests. The vast majority has been released but continue to face charges.

According to allegations received by Amnesty International, the country’s security forces have resorted to the excessive use of force, including the use of live fire, and even torture when dealing with protesters.

The report also documents human rights abuses committed by pro-government groups, protesters and unidentified individuals.

“All allegations of human rights violations and abuses have to be promptly and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

“The political crisis risks undermining any progress made in recent years in standing up for the rights of those most marginalized in the country.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Venezuelan government to commit to a Human Rights National Plan. This plan should be the result of a national dialogue and include all parties and civil society.

“The government and the opposition must commit to peaceful means of resolving the political crisis, instructing supporters that violence and confrontational rhetoric that could incite violence will not be tolerated. The international community, including neighbouring countries, must foster constructive dialogue in the country,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

Background information
Examples of alleged human rights violations

Geraldine Moreno

On 19 February, Geraldine Moreno, a 23-year-old student, took part in a demonstration in the city of Valencia. A National Guard officer allegedly fired a rubber pellet shotgun cartridge into her face from a distance of only 30 cm. Geraldine died in hospital three days later.

Daniel Quintero, a 21-year-old student, was detained by officers of the National Guard after taking part in an anti-government demonstration in the city of Maracaibo on 21 February. He was repeatedly beaten and alleges that a National Guard commander threatened him with being burned alive.

For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations                (613)744-7667 #236
Report [in Spanish]   Venezuela: Human Rights at risk amid protests