Shots to the Heart: The Human Cost of Extrajudicial Killings

An up-close and personal look at how Venezuelan families cope with losing a loved one to extrajudicial killings.

Image: @lavidadenos

The tragic rise of extrajudicial killings in recent years has become part of Venezuelan reality. Even here at Caracas Chronicles we’ve covered this terrible uptrend. But beyond statistics and press reports, sometimes it’s very difficult for the average reader to understand what the relatives of the victims really have to go through after losing a family member that way.

Enter La Vida de Nos. The Venezuelan site dedicated to storytelling launched a special series titled “Shots to the Heart” (Disparos al Corazón), in which seven women who lost a loved one by the unlawful action of authorities tell their stories in first person, with minimal intervention.

Image: @lavidadenos

With the support of respected NGO COFAVIC and other local human rights activists, seven women were assisted by a team of writers, journalists, photographers and videographers who helped them through the process of transforming their experiences and feelings into written words.

The five-month project was finally released in late January, right in the aftermath of the deadly shootout at El Junquito, considered by Human Rights groups as an extrajudicial killing.

Survivors of such great pain, have found in the act of writing a form of self-realization and healing of their wounds.

What is “Shots to the Heart” trying to accomplish? Here’s what those behind the project say:

“During the five months we contributed in it (the project), we experienced very meaningful moments. We hope that the same happens to each reader that goes inside the lives of these women, victims of State violence and impunity. And that they, survivors of such great pain, have found in the act of writing a form of self-realization and healing of their wounds.

We know that some of them continue to write, which establishes it already as the first and most important achievement of this project.”

La Vida de Nos recently reached its first anniversary and it seems like their effort has paid off so far not only in the number of stories they’ve published, but in their scope and purpose. As someone who was excited for the site before its launch, I’m happy for their current success and I look forward to their new projects.

And just by what I’ve read of Disparos al Corazón, they hold a lot of promise.