Images: Raxel Andara

The day Juan was killed, he and Nancy, his mother, were home. It was her day off at work. It happened at around 9:00 a.m., while she was making him an arepa. Juan was shirtless, planning to spend his day at home. They heard a knock on the door. She opened the first door and the policemen told her: “This is the OLP (Operativo de Liberación del Pueblo), please open the door, ma’am.” Nancy asked her son if she should, and Juan replied: “Of course, mom, we have nothing to hide.”

Two OLP officers went inside and asked Nancy and Juan if they were armed. Then, they took her son and restrained him face-down in the hallway. Nancy looked for her son’s ID, showed it to the policemen and they replied: “Your son killed a police officer on July 17, we have to take him, please go to your room.”

Nancy is a single mother living in a squat in downtown Caracas. She had a son and a daughter. Her son, Juan, 18, was killed by the OLP in 2016, just two stories below her apartment on the stairs of the building that she still lives in. I interviewed her in March at her home for a research project on behalf of Caracas Mi Convive, an NGO. This project eventually became a book titled: Cuando suben los de negro: experiencias de duelo en víctimas de violencia policial, that is going to be published on December 13.

Nancy is a single mother living in a squat in downtown Caracas. Her son, Juan, 18, was killed by the OLP in 2016. Art by Raxel Andara. 

The building where we did the interview was located in central Caracas. On the day of the interview, Nancy was waiting for us in the entrance of the building with her doors wide open. A member of Caracas Mi Convive introduced us—me and my coworker, Santiago—to her.

She invited us to her home, it was a four bedroom apartment with a balcony. The living room, where we did the interview, had two sofas, a dinner table and a television. The first thing that she asked us when we sat down was: are you journalists? She told us that she needed help speeding things up in la Fiscalía regarding her son’s case. This was her main concern throughout our visit: how to establish, before the law, that her son did not confront the policemen? That he was not even a criminal and that he was executed illegally by the institution that’s in charge of people’s safety? I know that one day the whole truth will be known, everything that happened will be known. I assure you that one day I’m going to appear in Venevisión and I will tell the story just as it happened”.

She described Juan as a caring young man that liked to go outside with his friends to practice breakdance on the streets. On occasions, she reproached herself for not having enough time to take care of her son, wondering if she could have avoided this entire situation. If she had spent more time with him, she could have kept Juan at home and the police wouldn’t have recognized him and targeted him as a criminal.

We noticed she was telling us the story as if the police officers were standing right in front of her, again. She raised her voice, restrained herself from crying and reenacted the whole scene:

The building where we did the interview was located in central Caracas. On the day of the interview, Nancy was waiting for us in the entrance of the building with her doors wide open. A member of Caracas Mi Convive introduced us—me and my coworker, Santiago—to her.

“When they told me to go my room, I stood still, quiet, because you don’t know what your children do when you’re not with them. The policeman kept telling me to go to my room. I told him that I wasn’t going anywhere. Then, a man came in with a black mask, he carried one of those tubes that are full of cement on the inside, and then they took Juan to the second floor. I heard a clunking sound and my son screaming. Then I heard several shoots… I just leaned my head against the wall and said: Jesus, from now on, everything is under your control.”

She’s certain of her son’s innocence, and constantly goes to the Prosecutor’s’ Office hoping one day she’ll see those officers behinds bars. She has kept the bullet-marks the police officer left on the walls of the stairs where Juan was killed. When she was showing us the holes on the wall, a neighbor called “Castillo” told us that no one in the community wants to remove those marks off the wall: “One day justice will be served, we need to keep all the evidence we can, to prove Juan was innocent.”


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