Caracas, March 25th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – A deputy legislator for the pro-government coalition, the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), was murdered on Thursday night in what Venezuelan authorities and political groups have decried as a politically motivated assassination.
Deputy legislator César Vera (40) was shot dead in Táchira outside of a corner store at around 8.30pm. Two men described as paramilitaries by local law enforcement officials are wanted in connection to the murder.
“He was approached by two subjects who, according to people present at the time… were on a motorbike… One of them took out a firearm and fired it,” said Ramón Cabeza, secretary of security for the Táchira state government, in comments to state TV channel VTV.
“We are extremely dismayed by this vile act, carried out by paramilitary groups,” he added.
Vera was a member of the longstanding radical leftist militia known as the Tupamaro movement and was elected as a deputy legislator for the GPP in the congressional elections of December 6th.
The Tupamaros have publicly demanded action be taken in response to Vera’s murder.
“We demand immediate justice. We will never allow them to kill our comrades in struggle. Here there is militancy in all terrains. Pay attention – we are not asking for favours,” reads a statement on the Tachira Tupamaro Twitter page.
In statements made to press, Táchira state governor José Gregorio Vielma Mora confirmed that Venezuela’s forensic police, the CICPC, is currently investigating the murder.
A case has also been opened with the Public Prosecutor’s office.
Tachira state lies on the Venezuela-Colombia border and is a notorious hotbed for political unrest, as well as food and drug smuggling.
Some reports suggest that paramilitary activity from neighbouring Colombia has also spilled over into Venezuela’s borderlands in recent years.
According to Mora, paramilitary and criminal groups in the region are currently involved in a turf war to take control over the lucrative border crossing, which was closed by the Venezuelan government in August 2015 for security reasons.
“Vera’s hired killer has interests in the smuggling mafias which are against the new peaceful border,” stated the governor.
Mora also claimed that the alleged killers are connected to the former rightwing Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, who has been accused several times of having links to paramilitary groups.
Although the immediate motive for the murder is still unknown, statements on social media suggested that Vera was targeted for being uncompromising in his politics and for actively fighting against “food and drug smuggling”.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly asked for zero reprisals in the face of several political assassinations over the last two years– including the murder of fellow legislator Robert Serra at the hands of hired killers in October 2014.