Four Arrested after Yanomami Activist Beaten to Death by Venezuelan Police

Four policemen have been arrested for the murder of a 27 year-old Yanomami health activist on Saturday. 


Santa Elena, May 4th, 2015. ( 27 year-old Maita Camico, a Yanomami of Venezuela’s Amazonas state, was beaten to death on Saturday afternoon after being taken into police custody for “disturbing public order,” according to official reports. The Public Prosecutor’s office has indicted four policemen for their part in the murder.

The accused officials were apprehended by criminal and forensic investigators (CICPC) after Camico’s lifeless body was delivered to a hospital in Puerto Ayacucho, the state capital. The police record showed Camico was arrested on a major avenue hours beforehand. 

According to photos and updates from his Facebook profile, Camico was a health activist for Yanomami communities in the Venezuelan Amazon. The young man provided logistical information for medical personnel and paramedics working in the region. 

Camico was also a student of the government program Yanomami Health Plan, which offers specialized instruction aimed at supplementing traditional and shamanic medicine in their communities.

Over 16,000 Yanomami were estimated to live in Venezuela’s Southeastern Amazon region in 2009. The communities vary from relative to total isolation, while a few interact frequently with nearby cities.

Camico’s body was submitted for autopsy by fellow Yanomami, who demanded to know the exact cause of death. The examination showed damage to vital organs resulting from a beating that began at the time of arrest and escalated at the police station. According to local media, this is the first autopsy ever to have been carried out on a member of the Yanomami nation.

Adriana Gonzalez, the mayor of Puerto Ayacucho, has made no formal statement to date. Gonzalez belongs to the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition and held office during the neoliberal administrations preceding President Hugo Chavez.

A news site called La Tabla was the first to call national attention to the murder on May 3rd. An editor’s note details the difficulty their writers encountered in investigating the crime. Many residents and local reporters claimed Camico was hit by a car, while others attempted to defame Camico’s person by alluding to drug use and indecent dress.

Venezuela’s Public Prosecutor emitted a press release this morning including the autopsy results and the names of the four accused.