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Police kills 4* students in Venezuela

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

01.07.05 | Venezuelan judicial system has been characterized for a basically dysfunctional for decades. In fact, one of the planks of Chavez election was to reform justice. Something that not only he did not do, but made it worse by intervening it in a planned chaos which allowed him after a few years to totally pack the High Court of Venezuela with subservient judges, many of them not even qualified to be justices of the peace.

While this was taking place, the beyond dismal Venezuelan jail system kept its own degradation and human degradation functions. For the first time in years we saw prisoners dying of typhoid fever, a disease that can be avoided just by providing inmates with clean water. Earlier this year we were subjected once again to the sorry spectacle of rioting jails demanding of all things some speedier justice.

Then there is the police corps. It has also been decades that police brutality is routinely reported, another one of the unfulfilled plank in Chavez 1998 promises. During the Vargas 1999 disaster all sorts of brutality took place. And since reports have not stopped, most from chavista held areas: Guarico with governor Manuitt being the most recent example.

Another one of the left litanies in Venezuela, and certainly justified in part, was the regular beatings of students by police during protest. Well, this one nightmare came back this week. In a still unclear string of events 3 students were killed by cops who mistook their car for another, shot before even asking questions. Three other in the car were injured.

Now, this could have been some last page news, but this time it was different. It was three students and you do not kill three students INSIDE their car without a real reason. Today the truth could not be held as in many universities students started to protest. Revelations kept pouring. In Tal Cual it was revealed that the rogue cops had an order to kill three. A police supervisor admitted that the cops had fudged the evidence so as to pretend that there was a fight with the students.

The reaction of the government for once was swift as can be read here , here and here. Suspiciously swift at that. How come?

Venezuela, or rather Chavez, is holding a summer camp in August: the XVI th world festival of youths and students. This one has nothing to do with the same type of summer camp held by, say, John Paul II. The title this year? "We will fight against war and imperialism". I would have preferred "for peace and against war" or some more peace oriented slogan. But that slogan says it all: a union of all sort of left wing organizations, some probably genuine and respectable, some not so, particularly the ones from Venezuela and Cuba with a clear agenda that has nothing to do with subjects not designed to glorify their beloved leaders. The announced program is quite edifying, leaving nothing to the imagination.

No wonder the government was so swift in denouncing the student massacre!!!!! Talk about a public relation disaster only 38 days before opening ceremonies!

But that is what it happens when instead of doing your job, to clean up the judicial system, from the judges to the cop, you let things go to seed because it actually serves your political ambitions.

Meanwhile three very innocent victims lay dead in the bloom of their youth while 3 other hang to life by a thread. I wonder if we should warn those students visiting in August.

Editor's note: Leonardo González Lárez, Edgar Quintero Torrealba and Erick Miguel Montenegro Sánchez were simply assassinated by a death squad formed by members of the military police (DIM), the investigative police (CICPC) and PoliCaracas. Another student wounded by the police died last night. I shall post her name here as soon as I get it. A. Boyd

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*Update 02.07.05: I retract the previous statement regarding the death of a fourth student, as the information received from Caracas turned out to be incorrect. A. Boyd



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