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Venezuelan Opposition Protesters Shoot Chavez Supporter

Caracas, November 28, 2007 ( - Neighbors, friends and family members of young worker and supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, José Anibal Oliveros Yépez, who was murdered by a radical opposition group in the regional city of Valencia on Monday, have express profound rage and indignation at what occurred explaining that his body was spat on and kicked by his killers, "as if he were and animal."

Oliveres, 19 years old, was on his way to work driving a truck of state owned "socialist" housing company Petrocasa when he encountered opposition groups blocking the road in protest against proposed constitutional reforms. When he tried to convince them to let him pass he was shot several times and died before he could be rescued.

Radio YVKE Mundial reported that the opposition protesters came from Cuidad Alianza, a middle class suburb in Valencia and blocked a highway to impede workers from Petrocasa from passing to the poorer neighborhood of Araguita, where they were working to construct housing for the poor. However, the report noted many of the neighbors from Cuidad Alianza also rejected the violent behavior of some of the opposition groups.

A resident from Cuidad Alianza who did not want to be named told Radio YVKE Mundial that the opposition groups had blocked the road to Araguita from three o'clock in the morning and were patrolling the neighborhood "with guns in hand."

Alexander Borges, friend and workmate of Oliveros explained to VTV that they tried to rescue Oliveros, but were prevented by the protestors who threatened to kill them.

"There were four of us, trying to carry our friend to the community, but they surrounded us throwing bottles. I took the opportunity to move him [Oliveros] because they were going to hit him with a bottle in the face and I moved him so it did not hit him in the face. He had one bullet in the leg, a man from the local community was going to carry him, but in this moment they shot him twice in the back and this is when he fell to the ground."

"We pleaded with them for the life of our friend that was lying bloody on the ground, to please allow us the opportunity to pick him up and they responded that now they were coming for us, that they were coming for me," Borges added.

Borges explained that two other people came to help rescue Oliveros, but that the opposition supporters threw rocks and bottles at them screaming, "Come and pick up your dead, now we are coming for you."

Dixon Viloria, also a friend of Oliveros and a witness said that after they killed him, "they mal-treated him, kicked him, stripped off his clothes, hit him and screamed ‘pick up your dead chicken!' as if he was an animal."

Beltran Chavez, from Araguita said that neighbors from Cuidad Alianza had shot at workers from Petrocasa earlier when they tried to pass through to construction sites in Araguita. He said the same group of protesters had previously set alight to a truck from Petrocasa and physically and verbally attacked a group of women from Araguita.

"How can a group of people be better armed than the state and municipal police," he asked. He added that thanks to the municipal and state police the four people that participated in the act were captured."

National Assembly Deputy Francisco Ameliach and the Mayor of Guacara, José Manuel Flores, who visited the neighborhood to pay their respects to the Oliveros' family, reported that opposition groups in Ciudad Alianza that claim to represent "civil society" have marked the houses of Chavez supporters, or those they believe to be Chavez supporters, with red paint and "have said they are going to kill them."

Vice president Jorge Rodriguez confirmed that the Oliveros' killer had been identified and arrested and has confessed to the crime, reportedly saying that all "Chavistas" should be killed, as well as three other people also linked to his death. Rodrgiuez said that simultaneously coordinated opposition protests of small groups had blocked other highways with burning objects in Valencia and Maracay. In total 80 people were arrested.

Rodriguez has also asked the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference to explain what they know about a meeting held by the opposition in the Diocesan Insitute in Maracay where the violent protests are alleged to have been planned.

Rodriguez said he has witness testimony of people who were invited to the meeting in the Diocesan Institute to "pray for peace" however; when they arrived they found the meeting was planning the protest in Ciudad Alianza that resulted in the death of Oliveros.

Rodriguez said the Catholic hierarchy should remember the commandments not to lie and not to kill and said the Church should explain to the Venezuelan people why their buildings are being used to plan these types of protests.

Friends and family of Oliveros also condemned Venezuelan and international media reporting of his death, particularly opposition private TV channel Globovision, which they say tried to portray Oliveros as insane, and some international media that have tried to obscure the events leading to Oliveros death, some even claiming that Oliveros was an opposition supporter attacked by a "pro-Chavez mob."

Gladys Yépez, mother of Oliveros demanded justice for her only son and President Hugo Chavez has responded saying the murderer of Oliveros should face the "full weight of the law."

Published on Nov 28th 2007 at 5.25pm