Photo: A Tu Salud En Línea

If you lived in Venezuela between 2001 and 2006, the name Linda Loaiza is one you’ll remember. Hers was the iconic case of violence against women in Venezuela’s recent history. It shook the nation, both because of the abhorrent nature of the injuries she sustained and the preposterous delays she faced in her quest for justice.

Now, 17 years after she was brutally beaten, raped, tortured and kidnaped over a period of almost 4 months, Linda’s case will be finally heard before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It’s the first case of violence against women from Venezuela to make it there. It will also be among the last: following  Hugo Chávez’s decision to withdraw Venezuela from the Inter-American Court, Venezuelans are no longer allowed to bring new cases.

Linda was only 18 when she was kidnapped by a man called Luis Alberto Carrera Almoina. He moved her around several locations and threatened to kill her if she tried to alert someone about what was happening. He would move with her under cover of night, so nobody could see them. Wherever they stayed, he made sure to play the TV as loud as possible to avoid Linda’s screams from being heard.

He bit and burned different parts of her body. He beat her ears so hard the blood that built up ended up making them burst. Her jaw and nose were broken and her vagina badly damaged. He brutally raped her every day between March and July 2001. She was kept tied up or handcuffed and was given little food. She became so weak from her injuries that she thought she was going to die. And so did he.

The day that turned out to be the last of her captivity, she looked so frail he decided it was not necessary to tie her up. Once he left, she mustered what little strength she had to crawl to the window to ask for help.

She was rescued on July 19th 2001 on the verge of death. She was severely beaten, had internal injuries and was severely malnourished. She weighed less than 30 kilos. She couldn’t walk for six months.

But her gruesome kidnaping is just one part of the story. After being rescued, her struggle for justice began.

Linda decided to take the Venezuelan State to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as both crimes — rape and torture — were never tried.

Her assailant belonged to a prominent family with strong ties to political and intellectual circles, able to corruptly influence the course of legal proceedings against him. In contrast, Linda’s parents were Colombian farmers living in Mérida, where she was born and raised before moving to Caracas. And so the case was, from the start, plagued by all sorts of class and gender prejudices. But whoever thought of Linda as a malleable young girl didn’t know her iron will and determination to get justice — the same that kept her alive during her captivity.

Almost 3 years after her rescue, her case was still in some sort of legal limbo: the initial hearing had been postponed 29 times and 59 judges had recused themselves. Fifty. Nine.

Carrera Almoina had been given house arrest from where he escaped with the help of his father and his secretary. He was caught the following day.

The trial finally began after Linda, still recovering from her injuries, decided to go on hunger strike.

When the first trial found Carrera Almoina innocent, the entire country was as appalled as when the case first broke. In her sentencing, Judge Rosa Cádiz explained that there was not enough evidence to prove that he was the author of Linda’s many injuries, including sexual violence. To be sure, these crimes were never properly investigated and evidence was poorly handled, if not completely destroyed.

After Linda’s appeal, her case was retried and her assailant was found guilty of illegal deprivation of liberty and serious injuries. The charges for rape and torture were dropped by the judge. Carrera Almoina was sentenced to 6 years and 1 month in prison in 2006. Since he had been in prison throughout the trial, he only served the remaining portion of the sentence, and was released in 2007.

It was then that Linda, already a law student, decided to take the Venezuelan State to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as both crimes — rape and torture — were never tried.

She did so by herself, with the help only of her lawyer and her family, a remarkable accomplishment as normally victims would rely on civil society and international organizations in order to take their cases to international courts.

She gets to today’s hearing almost 11 years from the day she filed her case before the Court. It is a historic day for her and her family, as well as for victims of sexual violence and torture.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. For a “one-time career diplomat and all-time human rights and women’s rights advocate” wouldn’t thousands of other cases be much more important? Say the Thousands of women forced into Prostitution by the Criminal Tyranny, or pervasive Child Labor, Modern Slavery in today’s Klepto-Cubazuela, etc, etc, etc.

    • Afiuni, the “aviator”, franklin brito and now caguaripano are all names that come to mind. Meanwhile, another case that made some noise, in the 90s, was that of the girl that murdered two persons over a cat (or was it a dog?) that she bought by taking one of her father’s cheques. I think she only served about 8 years and was released by maikel moreno himself (I think she also ran for an ANC position).

      This also reminds of a case in Paramaconi fort, maturin, years back where [insert military range with some authority] burnt and killed two subordinates, he was supposedly tried and and put in prison. But only in paper, he was out in no time. Maybe MRubio knows about this case as well.

      There’s no such thing as justice in venezuela. I hope Linda’s case goes somewhere.

      • Johnny Bolívar was a kidnapper who got a 25-year sentence for his crimes, but only two years later he was taken out of prison into parole, then he murdered Adriana Urquiola and her son during the 2014 protests and was taken off the country in the same day.

        He reappeared later when he was kicked out of Colombia for drug trafficking and kidnapping.

        Who took him out of his cage in the first place?

        Iris Varela aka the “prana supreme”

        • talking about taking people out of the country. I heard they also took out the man in charge of el unquito’s massacre (charge in situ, I’d guess).

          • And they did the same with the swine that beat that crippled woman during the 2014 protests.

            Crime is protected and directed from the very core of chavismo, and it all started with the infamous phrase of Chávez: “If I was poor I would steal too!”

  2. This is awful. Where is this despicable individual, Carrera Almoina now? How many other girls has he done this too? I hope whatever justice Linda Loaiza gets includes publishing a picture of this guy for the protection of others. Everyone should know who he is and where he lives.

    • He’s living the good and decadent capitalist life outside Venezuela, enjoying thousands of dollars he stole via his connections with the chavista regime.

      You know, the typical enchufado retirement.

  3. “She weighed less than 30 kilos.”

    Wow. This woman’s will to live, her will for justice, is truly powerful.

    “Almost 3 years after her rescue, her case was still in some sort of legal limbo: the initial hearing had been postponed 29 times and 59 judges had recused themselves. Fifty. Nine.”

    Can’t blame this on Chavez. This is unbelievable. Unreal.

    • “Can’t blame this on Chavez”

      Why not? Carrera was a hardcore chavista, one of Jorge Rodríguez’s closest friends, this is the typical case of “enchufado uses his powerful contacts to f**k an innocent’s life”

  4. There has never really been any real justice in Venezuela for anyone harmed by someone wealthy/politically well-connected, and now, thanks to Caldera’s change in criminal laws, there is no justice usually for those harmed by common criminals.

    • Because in socialist Venezuela, chavistas are free to do anything they want, including raping and killing at their whim.

      And Carrera was chavista as he could be, being a close friend of Jorge Rodríguez.

  5. Very interesting, thanks for alerting us to this appeal. It would be nice to know more information about the accused, though. Exactly what were his family connections to the people in power? Why did fifty-nine judges recuse themselves, exactly?

  6. I read Bloomberg’s story on this today (I think it was Bloomberg), but seriously.

    It’s just one of a million similar stories.

    Forgive me, but I no longer have any room for more outrage, unless it involves kids.

    Plus, who did she vote for in 1998?

      • Oops! Sorry! I didn’t do the correct math!

        It’s a very bad habit I have these days, wondering whether suffering Venezuelans voted for Chavez in the first place, and that they deserve it.

        Just can’t help myself, kind of like the Allies firebombing of German cities towards the end of WWII, where miraculously, all of a sudden, not a single German citizen knew about the extermination of Jews and OTHERS all around them. Let alone the atrocities the Nazis perpetrated in the invaded countries.

        As if they didn’t deserve the firebombing.

    • How about you crawl back into the hole you came out of? If you truly have no room for outrage what the fuck are you doing in what’s basically a digital Western Wall for Venezuelans.

      Really, there’s no reason for you to spread this kind of poison around here.

      • Blaming chavistas on chavismo makes sense, because they’re the ones to blame, simple as that, also, I don’t care about that 5% of the population anyway.

        Now, blaming people that never supported chavismo nor had any power to do anything about its ascension altogether is disgusting, as that guy nicknamed crusader did in the other post that I linked in these comments.

  7. Oh, look, another high ranking chavista turned to be a rapist too.

    You won’t guess who’s this, but here’s a hint, his nicknames include “captain hallaca, lieutenant stew or captain pepper”

    You know, the CICPCCICCICC didn’t exactly like that diosdadito ordered to kill OP:

  8. Here’s another one: Hubel Roa, the chavista congressman that made himself famous for smashing people with microphones and that now is sucking petrodollars from some useless post:

  9. […] The first Venezuelan woman to expose a case of gender violence before the Inter-American Court on Hu… (IACHR), demanded that all judicial operators, prosecutors and judges who were in charge of her case be punished, and restated her request to hold the Venezuelan State accountable for the failure of justice. Loaiza was systematically abused by Luis Carrera Almoina for four months. IACHR chairman Francisco Eguigueren said that the Venezuelan State is responsible for failing to exert appropriate and proportionate punishment for the extreme violence Loaiza had to endure. The lack of disposition is partly explained by the political contacts of Luis Carrera Damas, the culprit’s father; who got Carrera Almoina acquitted in first instance in 2004, and it would take six years for a second instance to sentence him for deprivation of freedom and body injuries, but he was still acquitted of rape and attempted murder. The worst performance of the hearing was offered by the “expert” invited by the Venezuelan State, Argentinian María Lucrecia Hernández, who worked with chavismo for several years and who, among other things, ratified that Loaiza made a mistake by not filing her accusation against Carrera Almoina before the proper authority. I’ll spare you the names I’d call this generous woman. My admiration for Linda and her enormous temperance and effort to reach this space and give her testimony. […]

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