So far this year, 67 police officers have been murdered in the greater Caracas area, according to an article published in El Universal today. July 16 is celebrated in Venezuela as National Police Day, but as the article points out, the two latest victims were killed within a span of twelve hours.
Luis Hernan Garcia (28), a National Bolivarian Police officer, was murdered yesterday around noon in the Andres Bello municipality in the vicinity of Caracas while going to his uncle’s house. On the way there, a group of armed assailants robbed and then murdered Garcia, who was not in uniform at the time.
Miranda State Police Officer Francisco Jose Machado (34) was killed ten hours later while giving chase to suspects on the Francisco Fajardo highway in Caracas near the Los Ruices neighbourhood. According to a close friend, Machado observed a group of men acting suspiciously in a car last night. Machado called out to them, at which point the men began to flee. Machado, who gave chase on his motorcycle, was shot in the neck at some point during the chase. He was conscious long enough to safely pull his motorcycle off to the side of the road. He was then taken to a nearby clinic, where he then died.
Wenter Minetti, Machado’s close friend, said:
They [criminals] don’t respect the authorities. Before, only the most hardened criminals dared to confront an officer. Now, everyone does it. Machado was his home’s breadwinner. He’d been with the police for twelve years (…) He was an honest, principled man.
Most disturbingly, virtually every single murder case involving an officer has been unresolved. According to criminologist Javier Gorrino:
There’s more than 99% impunity [in these cases], due to a lack of investigative capacity. There’s a lack of officers to investigate cases, as well as [a lack of] technical resources to conduct criminal investigations.
So far, 2014 is on track to becoming a record-breaking year for murdered officers in the greater Caracas area. The current record holder is 2012 (106 officers killed), while 2013 saw 100 officers lose their lives. 2011 saw 84, while in 2010 59 officers were killed.
Public Ministry Denies Charging Machado
The Public Ministry is the only organism that can charge someone, and this person has not yet been formally charged.
Diaz also said that she had presented Amnesty International with an update on the detentions made in connection with the protests that started in February of this year. In a report released in April, Amnesty International was extremely critical of the way the Venezuelan government has dealt with the protests.
Finally, an undated shot of a man sleeping underneath a piece of cardboard on the street near some National Bolivarian Police officers: