After 19 years the Venezuelan government, through the Attorney General's Office, makes a second exhumation of the remains located at the mass grave of La Peste in the Southern General Cemetery in Caracas, where are placed part of the victims of the popular rebellion known as El Caracazo, happened during 27th and 28th February 1989. Thus, the Venezuelan state complies with a ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights which in November 1999 sentenced to investigate the facts and punish those responsible, locate, exhume and identify the remains of the victims to deliver them to their families, as well as compensate those families for the violation of the right to life.
While serving the sentence has been a longing for the family and for several grassroots and human rights organizations, the ongoing process of exhumation has been challenged by a part of the victim’s relatives. Firstly because of the lack of information provided to the families of the actions that are intended to comply and carry out the sentence, in addition to require "active and leading role" throughout the whole process.
In press statements, the Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said her office has made "two thousand proceedings, over a period of three months," all of which are completely unknown by the mourners. There is not a work of involvement and relationship to promote the role of family members during the process of identifying the remains, apart from the bureaucratic call through the media for the delivery of collections at the Attorney’s Office. This contrasts with the exhumations in 1990 when the families, after receiving training, sheltered the site, made anthropometric charts and participated actively in the work of the scientific team, which left an important organizational balance and helped them psychologically to overcome the pain.
Second, the families have requested, in addition to the forensic team appointed by the national government, the involvement of an international scientific group with experience in similar cases, backed by human rights organizations. This mode, which has been promoted in the recognition of the bones of massacres in countries like Peru and Argentina, would generate the necessary transparency and confidence in the results of the exhumations.
A third petition is the ban of using the premises and staff of the National Armed Forces for the receipt and handling of the evidence found in La Peste. An official press release from the Attorney’s Office said "it was proposed and there is a strong commitment from the military authorities not only to provide security night and day and guarding the area where exhumations are to be made, but also locate a storehouse in Fuerte Tiuna (a military facility) to place the remains of the victims and make the expertises with the necessary efficiency and speed”…
In addition, the team designated by the Attorney for the exhumation is composed, among others, by the Director of the General Command of the Army and the General Commander of Core 5 of the National Guard. This situation is absolutely unacceptable. How can the military that committed these murders yesterday, now in government functions, ensure transparency and justice today? The murderers, members of the Armed Forces can not be judge and jury of the investigations.
We reject the fact that the Ombudsman, Gabriela Ramirez, has uncritically supported the steps made by the Attorney General, becoming an accomplice of the irregularities. The exhumation process has been turned into a media spectacle by the authorities without any involvement of family members.
We demand that the findings reveal the responsibility of the organs of the Armed Forces and militaries in current high positions of power, in the slaughter of the Caracazo.
We deplore that people who in their time had kept a fearless attitude to the facts: Matías Camuña, Comisión Justicia y Paz de Petare, are now volunteering to criminalize these requests.
We refute the slanders of the government civil servant Fresia Ipinza against the relatives of the victims, a person with proven involvement in corruption cases at the several institutions where functions have been assigned to her.
We demand that the military commanders and police reveal the whereabouts of the more than 300 bodies that are not in La Peste and were buried in unknown mass graves.
We warn about the dangerous precedent that this rigged procedure means to investigate gross violations of human rights by police and military officials. In those cases pending (El Amparo, Yumare, Cantaura, among others) and in those which may occur in the future against citizens and/or social activists, state leaders will coordinate the application of justice, having all the possibilities for altering and tampering evidences, and guarantee their impunity.
We express our solidarity with the families of the victims and their requests.
We denounce the work of criminalization of protest and support of the injustices by the state bureaucracy, such as the Attorney General's Office and the Ombudsman. We reiterate our commitment to each and every one of the struggles of the below to achieve social justice and freedom against the privileges of the above.
This situation is further proof that this government continues the policy of the same old Venezuelan State through its history: to repress the population and ensure impunity for their executioners.
Periódico El Libertario
Grupo de Estudio y Trabajo Pueblo y Conciencia (Maracay)
Comité de Víctimas contra la Impunidad – Lara
Unidad Socialista de Izquierda (USI)
P.R.V. – Tercer Camino
Cátedra de Formación Ideológica, Universidad de Yacambú (Lara)
La Vuelta al Conuco
Escuela de Formación Obrera (Maracay)
Justicia y Paz (Aragua)
Centro de Educación y Capacitación para la Vida - CECAVID (Edo Lara)
Asamblea de Ciudadanos "C.D"(Edo Lara)
Cátedra Libre de Derechos Humanos, UCLA (Lara)
Ateneo La Libertaria, Humocaro (Lara)
Kondenados, Colectivo y Banda (Cantaura)
Red Juvenil de Medellín (Colombia)
Periódico “Libertad” (Buenos Aires)
Grupo Cultural “Hij@s del Pueblo” (México)
Cooperativa Cultura Libre (México)
Movimiento Libertario Cubano
Domingo Alberto Rangel, intelectual y escritor revolucionario venezolano
Hisvet Fernández, profesora universitaria y activista feminista. (C.I. 4.265.243)
Nelson Garrido, fotógrafo (CI V-5.412.265)
Pablo Gamba, periodista (CI V-6.979.138)
Maria Walter, activista social (CI V-3970313)
Rafael Uzcátegui, defensor de derechos humanos y editor independiente (CI V-11.599.339)
Cayetano Ramirez (CI V-10.353.293)
Daniel Cabezas Sánchez, estudiante y cantautor (CI V-14.892.698)
Any Alarcón, anarcofeminista (CI V-13.140.586)
Antonino Macro, fotógrafo (Italia)
Yves Coleman, traductor (Francia)Patrick Rossineri, activista social (Argentina)Henry Ortega Spina NIE (España): X2429879-KJorge Tadeo Vargas, Profesor de educación media y miembro del Colectivo Marea Creciente (México)Elda Munich, anarcofeminista DNI Nº: 16.863.710. Rosario (Argentina)Alicia Zárate, artista plástica y ecologista (Argentina). C.I 5 310 565Marina Legaz Bursuk, miembro de la Federación Libertaria Argentina (FLA)Carlos Solero, profesor de sociología y miembro de la Biblioteca Alberto Ghiraldo, Rosario (Argentina)Luis Prat, traductor y miembro de Industrial Workers of the World, IWW (USA)
Translation: Julio Pacheco