Conflicts & War

Remembering Venezuelan protests: a decade of pain

By Héctor Pereira

Caracas, Feb 12 (EFE).- As the 10th anniversary of the 2014 protests in Venezuela approaches, Derek Redman talks about the absence of justice for his son Robert, who was fatally shot on Feb. 12, the first day of “La Salida,” a three-month wave of anti-government protests that claimed 43 lives.

“No one is behind bars for my son’s murder, and I have accepted it. I cannot do anything to capture those who killed him,” the 87-year-old man told EFE.

His son, a 31-year-old pilot who openly opposed the government of Nicolás Maduro, witnessed the first two killings of “La Salida” in the midst of protests in Caracas called by student leaders and representatives of the anti-Chavismo movement.

Within the first few hours of the protest, Robert helped carry the wounded Bassil Da Costa to the nearest hospital, where they couldn’t do anything to save him. He was the first fatal victim.

Later, his father saw at home stained with the blood of the deceased and with wounds caused by the police. Nevertheless, he went out again to participate in another protest scheduled for the night.

The protest was stopped by shots fired by a group of unidentified men; some media outlets said they were policemen.

The next time Derek Redman saw his son, he was in the morgue with a bullet in his head that the justice system still doesn’t know who fired ten years later.

The pilot became the third fatal victim, after Da Costa and Juan Montoya, in a protest that ended with 66 seriously injured (17 police and 49 civilians), in a clash that revolutionized the country for the next twelve weeks.

In Redman’s case, some police officers were arrested, but none sentenced, his father explained to EFE.

Father and son participated together in numerous anti-Chavista protests. When the call went out to commemorate Youth Day in a rally, neither of them hesitated and went out like thousands of Venezuelans.

An unpunished death

Jhony Montoya, 59, has denounced on numerous occasions that his brother Juan (an official sympathizer who became a member of the opposition) was killed on Feb. 12 because of a conspiracy among members of a Chavista collective.

One of the accused policemen was sentenced to 26 years as a “facade,” Montoya told EFE.

He still counts the days since the “unpunished murder” of Juan, whose last task as part of the “intelligence of the Caracas police” was to verify that the students did not have weapons at the protests.

“There was no investigation, no raids, no retention of weapons, no arrests, nothing,” Jhony repeats when talking about “the other four accused,” who are currently free.

Like Redman, he believes there “cannot be” justice “while this political situation and regime continue,” referring to Venezuela’s government.

Ten years later seems as if life went on everyone, except for the relatives of the 43 Venezuelans who died in 2014.

A testimony of violence that repeated itself in 2017, when the death toll tripled along with the complaints of impunity.

The General Attorney, Tarek William Saab, in office since 2017, assures that the State has not stopped investigating the murders committed during the protests and that the identified perpetrators are serving sentences.

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