Conan Quintana, a 28 year-old student leader from the Universidad Pedagogica Experimental Libertador [UPEL] was murdered on Thursday night at approximately 8:30 PM in the Candelaria neighbourhood in Caracas. Quintana had dedicated much of his life to advocating against crime and insecurity in Caracas, and was a founding member of the two citizens groups: the Frente por la Defensa del Norte de Caracas and the Asamblea de Ciudadanos de Candelaria.
On Thursday night, Quintana and two friends were driving through Candelaria just blocks away from the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Peace when two men on foot intercepted their vehicle. The men attempted to rob Quintana and his friends; at some point, they fired into the vehicle, striking Quintana, who in the passenger seat, and the driver. The driver, Luis Vasquez, died instantly, while Quintana survived his trip to the hospital but died of his injuries there. The other passenger was not hurt.
Catherine Quintana, Conan’s sister, summarized her brother in the following way:
He was 100% dedicated to his studies. He was 100% Venezuelan, UPELISTA [“a student from the UPEL] and he fought for his country… he was just another Venezuelan.
In the weeks prior to his death, Quintana had participated in seven protests in front of the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Peace to demand better policing in their neighbourhood.
Vazquez’s family owns a cheese store in the neighbourhood and employed Quintana.
Witnesses Say Police of Little Help
Witnesses who had gathered at the scene of the murder in the moments after the event told reporters that the security forces in the area arrived late and were of little help. One anonymous witness said that when the surviving passenger ran to a nearby National Guard detachment to ask for help, the officers were hesitant to help.
A neighbour who saw the event unfold said:
I called 911 and 171 and no one picked up. The National Guard arrived about 20 minutes later, and they almost drove past the scene. 20 minutes later, the fire fighters arrived, but they had nothing to do since all that was left [at the scene] was a dead body and it’s not their job to deal with that. At around 9:20 PM [48 minutes after the event] the National Police came, but they also didn’t do anything. It was at 10:30 PM [2 hours after the event] that the CICPC arrived to retrieve the body.
An anonymous witness said:
People started to yell at the [police] patrol for it to stop, stop, but they kept going for a few meters. People were asking them to stop, that a man was still alive inside the truck. When they finally loaded [Quintana’s] body unto the back of their pickup truck, they hadn’t closed the back latch properly, so he [Quintana] fell down onto the pavement. People are saying that the fall is what finally killed him.
Maduro: Colombian, Venezuelan Right Bankroll Assassins
Speaking on television today, Maduro said that the Colombian and Venezuelan right were working together to create chaos in the country by bankrolling roving bands of assassins “with drugs and dollars”. Maduro explained:
We have evidence showing the main leaders of the Venezuelan extreme right wing, the Colombian extreme right wing, along with criminal organizations they pay with drugs and dollars (…) so that they go out and murder people, chosen by them, to create a situation of chaos in the country.
Although Maduro did not offer any kind of evidence to back up his assertion, he appears to have been referencing an announcement made by Minister of the Interior Gustavo Gonzalez yesterday. Gonzalez said yesterday that a “paramilitary” organization operating in Caracas had been dismantled, and that he believed that it had been operating under the command of the combined Colombian-Venezuelan right.
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