Caracas, July 7, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced the arrest of 13 people for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of longtime revolutionary activist Carlos Lanz after a two-year investigation.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Saab recalled that an exhaustive probe was set in motion immediately after Lanz’s disappearance on August 8, 2020, in Maracay, Aragua state. The attorney general explained that a multidisciplinary team was appointed to find Lanz and clarify the facts.
A guerilla fighter in the 1960s and 1970s, Carlos Lanz was a key figure in Venezuela’s decades-long struggle against US-backed neoliberal governments and became an important advisor to President Hugo Chávez following the 1998 electoral victory. Between 2005-2007, the activist led workers’ control efforts in public aluminum firms ALCASA and VENALUM.
The revolutionary, who was 74 years old when he went missing, is likewise remembered for being a founder of the Venezuelan Revolution Party (PRV) and for his role in the high-profile 1976 kidnapping of US industrialist William Frank Niehous, for which he served ten years in prison. Upon leaving the armed struggle, the Marxist sociologist became a highly regarded university professor and dedicated his later years to writing extensively about the “non-conventional imperialist warfare” against Venezuela as well as paramilitary infiltration, agricultural development and communal power.
A well-respected intellectual within Chavista ranks and popular movements, Lanz’s disappearance sparked national indignation with a grassroots campaign demanding justice and prompt answers from authorities.
According to the attorney general, the Chavista activist’s death was ordered by his wife Maxiorisol Cumare, who paid US $8,000 to her extramarital partner Glenn Castellanos to hire hitmen to disappear Lanz. The presumed motive would be the professor’s discovery and intention to denounce Cumare’s corrupt dealings as regional manager of the National Institute of Training and Socialist Education (Inces) in Aragua state.
The revelations came from Castellanos himself, who gave a detailed recount of the murder on video. He is currently facing charges for contract killing, association to commit a crime and simulation of a punishable act. Cumare is facing the same criminal charges as well as corruption.
Saab explained that on the day of his disappearance, Lanz left his home with his friend Tito Viloria —Cumare’s alleged corruption accomplice who is currently in custody— who lured him to a false “political meeting” in Mariara city, Carabobo state. On the road, Lanz was kidnapped at gunpoint by hired hitmen José Antonio Pinto Moreno and Hely Enrique Pinto Moreno and taken to La Fortaleza farm in the nearby Cojedes state. They shot the professor in the head, dismembered his body and threw the remains to pigs in order to get rid of the evidence. The farm’s foreman Helis Becerra and one of the kidnappers have been captured while there is an arrest order for the other one.
Viloria’s partner Zaida Suárez has also been arrested for her implication in the murder and the presumed corruption scheme. Lanz’s daughter Abyayala Esperanza Lanz Cumare, his stepdaughter Alyeska Berenice Gil Cumare, and her husband Darwin Zambrano have likewise been charged for presumably covering up the crime.
Oliver Medina, another alleged extramarital partner of Cumare’s, domestic employee Maryori Acevedo and Diego Atehortua (close relation to the family) have also been accused of covering up the murder.
“The kidnapping and subsequent murder of professor Carlos Lanz have shocked public opinion. The investigations continue because we do not rule out that there could be new arrests,” stated Saab.
Additionally, the Venezuelan chief prosecutor defended his office’s work and took aim at those who criticized the Venezuelan justice system and tried to distort Lanz’s case for political gain.
“A parallel line to our investigation began to appear, saying that foreign mercenaries participated, but without presenting any evidence. The murder of Carlos Lanz, unfortunately, was a case of contract killing. They even attacked me and the Attorney General’s Office as alleged accomplices,” added Saab.
For his part, Carlos Lanz’s son Alex recognized the prosecutor’s work in pursuing the case and demanded respect for due process. “My father died on his feet, refusing to be complacent with corruption,” he tweeted.
Following the revelation of Lanz’s murder, tributes to the revolutionary activist’s legacy began pouring on social media. “His guidance and wisdom will always be lights for the struggles and victories of the peoples,” wrote Commune Minister Jorge Arreaza in a tweet.
The Venezuelan Chapter of the Network of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity (REDH) likewise issued a statement lamenting Lanz’s death. He was lauded as a “comrade of all progressive causes” and “an acute researcher and teacher of psychological and unconventional warfare operations.”
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Mérida.