This morning, a confrontation involving police officers and alleged members of a colectivo armado [literally, “armed collective”, pro-government armed militias] left five people dead, including Jose Odreman, the leader of the “Frente 5 de Marzo” colectivo.
The colectivos armados are a controversial force in Venezuelan society. While the government officially denies directly controlling them, their violent acts against protesters are well documented by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
This morning, police officers raided the headquarters of the “Escudo de la Patria” [literally, “Shield of the Nation”] colectivo in the Quinta Crespo neighbourhood of Caracas. According to El Universal, CICPC officers clashed inside the Manfredir building.Two people were killed at this time, and several police officers were taken hostage by the culprits. A rescue operation mounted later in the day resulted in the freeing of the hostages and three more deaths. It appears as if all five killed belonged to the group facing the police.
Jose Sierralta, the national director of the CICPC, said that one of the people killed was Jose Odreman, whom he qualified as the leader of a “dangerous gang”. He also said that Odreman was an ex-Caracas Metropolitan Police officer, that his gang is called “El Odreman”, and that they are suspects in several murders.
Odreman was the leader of the “Frente 5 de Marzo” colectivo, and a spokesperson for the “Escudo de la Patria” colectivo.
Below, pictures showing the confrontation today in Quinta Crespo:
Torres Denies Raid Connected to Serra Murder
Minister of the Interior and Justice Miguel Rodriguez Torres clarified today that the raid against the colectivos today in Caracas was not at all related to the ongoing investigation into Robert Serra’s murder.
Odreman Spoke to Media Shortly Before Being Killed
Three videos showing Odreman speaking to the media today have been posted on YouTube.
The videos, along with my translations, are below.
The first video in the series appears to be the one shot earliest in the day. It show Odreman giving an account of what had happened up to that point in the day:
… today, at 5:00, 4:00 AM, the Cuerpo de Investigaciones Sienticifas [CICPC], along with the El Paraiso Sheriff’s office, came here and entered the building. When we realized what was happening, that’s when our comrade fighters were murdered, three of them. They were sleeping! There are witnesses to this, because there were a lot of people there. They were cruelly and savagely murdered. At the scene of the crime, they [the police] sprayed water to get rid of the evidence. I make a strong call to point out that we repudiate these acts. The second-in-command of our colectivo movement… we repudiate these acts. I call on our fellow citizen, the constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, first a worker, now a leader. Comrade, this sheriff’s office, and [inaudible, but sounds like “CONBYE”] launched an attack against a fellow comrade. Look at what’s happening here. Enough is enough. We call for peace. But they don’t listen. They came here, terrorized the families, pointed their weapons at children, without any regard to what might have happened. I’m calling upon… we’re going to launch a national mobilization – listen up – a national mobilization, tomorrow, to repudiate these acts. We cannot allow for this to continue in the house of Bolivar, the house of our leader Commander Hugo Chavez Frias. Chavez Vive! Thank you, comrade.
The second video appears to show Odreman inside the building in which his fellow colectivo members were killed. In the video, Odreman appears to be explaining to the cameras where the killings took place:
So, effectively, here is were our comrade, soldier and friend was killed. They killed him here, and then, look… what kind of state security body would do something like this? The cleaned up the crime scene. They didn’t leave anything at the crime scene. What could this mean? This was an execution, my friends. A killing, an execution. [Pointing to the ground] This is where they killed him, right here. See? They cleaned up the scene, and there you can see for yourself… [sound cuts out].
The video cuts out while Odreman makes what appears to be a passionate appeal to the camera. There is rampant speculation on social media regarding what Odreman might have said.
In the third video, Odreman appears to be aware of his impending death, and blames Minister of Interior and Justice Miguel Rodriguez Torres of his imminent murder.
To the Minister of Interior and Justice [Torres], anything that happens to Jose Odreman is on your hands, the responsibility is all yours, because you’re carrying this out, Enough! Don’t sacrifice any more comrade fighters! Enough!
Conspiracy Theories Abound
In the absence of any kind of meaningful information from government sources, Venezuelans on social media began to try to piece together if – and how – the death of Odreman might be linked to the murder of Robert Serra last week.
While Serra was a well-known PSUV official, Odreman worked in the background through the colectivos. However, it is true that the two had met, as evidenced by these undated pictures:
Outside of Twitter conspiracy theories, there appears to be no connection between the two events.