Photo: Mario Pérez

Dying in Maracaibo is now a double tragedy, since the city’s cemeteries can’t even guarantee the security of the bodies buried inside them.

Cemetery “El Cuadrado”. Photo: Mario Pérez

The City of the Sun has three old cemeteries. The “Corazón de Jesús,” founded in 1941; the “San José,” best known as “El Redondo,” founded in 1924; and “El Cuadrado,” which exists since 1981 but was founded in 1879, where most illustrious Zulians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are buried.

Since July, “El Cuadrado” cemetery started drawing Zulians’ attention because of its lack of maintenance and the undergrowth that took over the open-air museum, turning it into a horror film location. The German foundation Fuxburg Carolath, along with Zulia’s Governor’s Office and through the Rafael Urdaneta Center (CRU), offered to provide the maintenance service and the work to remove the undergrowth. Once they did it, they revealed something that was hidden for a long time: the evidence of the profanation of almost every tomb in the cemetery.

Cemetery “El Cuadrado”. Photo: Mario Pérez

They found remains of jawbones scattered across the cemetery, most of them with missing teeth. Employees of the cemetery explained that graverobbers are looking for gold teeth or any other valuable accessory.

“El Cuadrado” now shows tombstones split in half, showing the destruction of the architectural heritage of great marble sculptures carved by Italian and Venezuelan artists. Any bronze or copper incrustation has also been stolen and taken to some junk yard or sold to the highest bidder.

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Cemetery “El Cuadrado”. Photos: Mario Pérez

Graverobbers open the crypts and pull the coffins out in search of valuable items such as gold rosaries, rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, or any other belonging of the deceased, who were sometimes buried with valuable objects.

People are well aware of the cases of marble busts that have been stolen from the tombs of famous citizens, such as Udón Pérez, composer of Zulia State’s anthem; Jesús Enrique Lossada, rector who presided over Zulia University’s reopening, among others.

Cemetery “El Cuadrado”. Photo: Mario Pérez

According to sociologist and anthropologist Daniel Castro, the state of El Cuadrado cemetery in Maracaibo is evidence of how the memory of a society can be erased. Castro says: “Cemeteries leave an irreplaceable trace for the reconstruction of a city’s identity (…) the paradox is critical for the Venezuelan case, especially in Zulia, because we still keep a direct relationship with our colonial and republican past. These ties are affected by the ideologies introduced and the new forms of government ruling the country for the past 20 years.”

For the Zulian sociologist—whose mother, former Zulia governor Lolita Aniyar, is buried in “El Cuadrado—“cemeteries are like a message in a bottle that a shipwrecked sailor tosses to the sea in the hope that future generations might find it and reconstruct history. In the end, this helps us rejoin the historical cycle that we’ve lost.”

Cemetery “El Cuadrado”. Photo: Mario Pérez

Silverio Osorio, a Catholic priest, vice-pastor of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Maracaibo, pastor of the church of the San Francisco de Asís convent right in the heart of the city’s historical center and activist for the preservation of downtown Maracaibo historical heritage, is concerned by how people currently choose to cremate and bury their relatives. He says that’s why “nobody visits or cares for old cemeteries in Maracaibo.”

On the day she had to face her husband’s death, Lourdes Párraga decided to cremate him to avoid exposing him to the profanation of his tomb. Párraga says that “when my neighbor’s mother died, she was buried in the Corazón de Jesús cemetery. My neighbor went to visit her tomb the day after the burial, and found the macabre scene of her mom’s naked body out of the grave. Someone had stolen her coffin. She had no other choice than to buy another coffin and keep the horrible memory. Nobody in the cemetery took responsibility for the incident.”

Cemetery “El Cuadrado”. Photo: Mario Pérez

It’s not enough to remove the undergrowth and flooding social media with false promises that the “El Cuadrado” cemetery will become an “open-air museum.”

How will Zulians preserve their memory? Will the government continue to destroy everything, even our final resting space?

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43 COMMENTS

  1. I recall that during the Chavez years, tomb raiding took a spike with the plundering of bones from El Calvario in Caracas, mainly for occult rituals. I imagine too that given circumstances, those rituals have only increased in recent years. But nobody who saw it can forget the ultimate tomb raid of them all: El Galactico’s midnight exhumation of Bolivar. At that point, it was absolutely clear to anyone with doubts that Chavez was not so much a Marxist as he was completely nuts, and the Bolivarian Revolution not so much a political movement as it was a cult.

    • That was no more nuts than your stupid government promoting Prince Phillip to the head of all Canadian Armed Forces, fairly recently. A guy who is going to drop dead any day now and who has nothing to do with anything.

      You guys are FUCKING nuts!

      • Credit to Ira.. never misses an opportunity to trash someone he disagrees with using a remote subject to deflect from the the topic being discussed, and has no bearing on his own life/sphere of influence.. Meds dude.. or less ron?

        • And I guess you missed the fact that this is all Shmucklehead has ever done here for years?

          And admit it:

          You’re Shmucklehead using Gringo 2 as an alias.

          What a pitiful moron you are, because there are things called ISPs, which some of us know how to track.

    • I always wondered what the real purpose was for exhuming Bolivar. Personally I suspect El Galactico was hoping for DNA that would indicate he was related. They also dug up his sisters. Agree! Completely nuts!

  2. Yeah…socialism is bad enough but Santeria socialism is just …just..I cant even think of a suitable adjective! Crazy? Insane? Twisted?

    • Bizarre! What are they doing with the coffins? Re-selling them? What does that say about the people who buy those used coffins? uuuggghhh!

  3. Holy shit. I’m speechless.

    The sad truth is, the people doing this are probably more desperate than deranged. I think.

    I can’t wrap my head around it.

      • Again. Not wackos. Desperation.

        They didn’t steal the clothes, I’m sure. The clothes either deteriorated or were discarded. No way in hell anyone could expect to sell clothes sitting in a coffin on a dead body, for years.

  4. “when my neighbor’s mother died, she was buried in the Corazón de Jesús cemetery. My neighbor went to visit her tomb the day after the burial, and found the macabre scene of her mom’s naked body out of the grave. Someone had stolen her coffin. She had no other choice than to buy another coffin and keep the horrible memory. Nobody in the cemetery took responsibility for the incident.”

    The neighbor went to visit his/her mom a day after the burial and found her NAKED BODY our of the grave. Clothes do not deteriorate in a day. And if they got the lady naked to, later, discard the clothes is even more disturbing!

      • Hi. It is not a rumor. In my journalistic work, I interviewed several people with true stories. I myself heard the testimony of the person when he told his neighbor, who is my friend.

      • Yeah, I could see Ira buying those clothes because “it doesn’t smell yet”.

        And trashing the journalist for spreading “rumors”

        More meds, or less ron dude.

          • Ira, this is Gringo 2, not Canucklehead.

            I’ve been here at CC for over 12 years. Yes, I use a nickname, starting when I worked in Venezuela for over 10years and in an EM, with my family and myself at risk for criticising Chavismo. I’ve known Quico and Juan, via personal email and have met personally more than once. My wife and I are strong CC supporters and fierce critics when I/we disagree, that’s democracy. But I try not to make it personal (sorry, I’m not always successful).

            You on the otherhand, late comer, angry and unhinged attacks against persons who hold different ideas. You attacked Chead when he posted this past week supporting an idea you posted..

            You can’t get past his name to read what he actually wrote before you blast away.

            You may be married to a Venezuelan, but that doesn’t give you autorights to blast away at things you don’t understand.

            and I’ll call you out as I do Quico when I disagree..

            Gringo 2 (because Gringo was taken), not Canucklehead.

  5. Hey guys and gals, very concerning news in regards to Naky Soto.
    http://zaperoqueando.blogspot.com/2018/08/un-descanso-ineludible.html

    Google Translate
    A few weeks ago Facebook memories approached me 7 photos that I supported in 2016 the “Touch yourself or you will play” campaign, designed to prevent breast cancer. In February , a touching discovered little ball that caught my alarm and took me to a long process of exploration mastologists, radiologists and oncologists that ended with the diagnosis of cancer.
    I never understood the true concept of being patient until these months. It was a complicated route, but they will have surgery next week and to shed new inmunohistoquimical will determine the rest of the treatment. Fortunately, it is an early diagnosis, which is key to swell the chances of survival and healing.

    If something extraordinary happens, is the tell so be on an audio. For the rest, I leave this country version that I can not narrate until my conditions permit. For me, networking is a wonderful place to set the pace and continue to insist on other versions we want and gestated cane, so I enjoy writing and reading, despite regular issues. I hope this will just be a little while and, if not, find a way to write;)

    Continue, please.

    • I have two sisters with the same experience. Discovered a little ball, underwent lumpectomies and not mastectomies, suffered through chemo, lost their hair, then fully recovered and went on to live happy, productive lives for many years.

      Not fun, but you will soon be your old self. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

      God bless.

    • Oh, this is sad news.

      My wife endures my online shenanigans, so long as I don’t involve any information about her or our family that would allow anyone but the most determined of internet sleuths to discover our identities. Ergo, when we hear stories of suffering (ie MRubio’s step daughter) I can only offer best wishes.

      That being said, if there were some GoFundMe type situation that could get Naky REAL currency to get her out of Venezuela and into a legitimate healthcare situation where she could get care, we would happily contribute.

  6. “Employees of the cemetery explained that graverobbers are looking for gold teeth…”

    WHat humanitatian crisis? The Chavistas might as well point to the moon and declear to the world, “La la luna es cuadrada.”

  7. “Will the government continue to destroy everything, even our final resting space?”

    If you keep miscalling the Klepto-Cubazuelan Tyranny or Genocidal Narco-Regime “Government”, it probably will.

  8. This is why I’ve instructed my woman that if I die an untimely death, to simply throw my carcass in the nearby Rio Amana. And knowing her, if I die in the morning, by 4PM she’ll have the bodega open selling masa. LOL

  9. Just saw the posts re Naky. Young lady, stay strong. With all you endure on a daily basis, if anyone can beat cancer, it is you. Godspeed.

  10. Naky, I highly recommend Dr. Padron Amare, Centro Medico San Bernardino, cancer/female anatomy specialist, excellent surgeon, 50 years experience, leaving soon for long vacation. Sentinel lymph node important in diagnosing future medical action. Good luck–you’ll be missed by all of us accustomed to your invaluable news updates during your recovery.

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