Mérida, 13th January 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –President Nicolas Maduro has struck out at media coverage of ex-Miss Venezuela Monica Spear’s murder as a “show” to make money and “demoralise” the South American country. Other recent notable murders meanwhile have not received mainstream media coverage.
Spear and her ex-husband Thomas Berry were murdered in Venezuela last week during a roadside robbery after their car suffered an accident. Their daughter was also injured in the attack.
The crime hit international headlines and caused the government to place citizen security at the top of its agenda. A full scale investigation was launched, and so far nine people have been arrested in connection with the murder.
Venezuelan and international media have followed Spear and Berry’s murder investigation, life stories and funeral in great detail, while political opponents have used the case to attack the country’s record on crime. United Nations statistics from 2011 put the country’s murder rate among the highest in the Americas.
While the government has announced a raft of new security initiatives over the past week, Maduro yesterday struck out at the media coverage of the Spear case, saying media were trying to create a “show” to “make millions from this painful situation that our country has experienced”.
A few days previously the Venezuelan president also accused private media of “gloating” over the situation and “trying to show the worst in order to say that Venezuela is useless”.
Other murder cases
There have been several other murders in Venezuela recently which have not been covered by mainstream media, and have also received less attention from authorities than the Spear case.
Last Thursday trade unionist Marcos Rojas was gunned down by assassins outside his workplace in the western state of Carabobo. He was a leading member of a union struggle against the boss of food transport company DIGALVA, Carlos Galvan, who workers accused of violating labour and food safety regulations.
Due to denouncements by Rojas and others, Galvan was jailed when state inspectors discovered his company was purposefully delivering expired food to supermarkets.
In a statement to alternative news website Aporrea.org, DIGALVA’s trade union accused Galvan of organising Rojas’ assassination. They asked authorities for protection from further attacks and demanded that the company be nationalised.
Another case is that of Rafael Galindez, a rural worker and commune activist from the mountains of Lara state who was killed last week by alleged members of an extortion gang that operates in the area.
A statement from the Pro-Campesino Human Rights Association charged police and judicial authorities of “doing absolutely nothing” to investigate such crimes and demanded they bring the “paramilitary gangs” in the zone to justice.
The association called on Nicolas Maduro to send government ministers to the area and implement security measures to resolve the situation.
Social movements have also asked regional and national government to guarantee the safety of Yupka activist Silverio Romero after an assassination attempt was made against the indigenous leader on 3 January.
Assassins shot Romero in the back with a shotgun in the Sierra Perijá region of Zulia state; however he was taken to hospital and survived the incident.
Silverio’s father, Yupka chief Sabino Romero, was killed last 3 March, also by assassins. A trial of six people suspected of involvement in the murder began in Caracas at the end of December, and the investigation continues.
According to indigenous rights NGO Homo Et Natura, a total of eight members of the Romero family have been assassinated. The group says that the killings are part of landowners’ resistance to the Yupka’s struggle for their ancestral lands in the area, and blame local judicial and police impunity for preventing bringing those behind the murders to justice.