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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  1. So where are the protest marches in the US, Paris, London and Berlin. Can their anbsence be explained because the left is indifferent to a left wing dictatorship that murders its own people.

  2. In socialist countries the enemy is the victim not the criminal. The criminal is not at fault because he or she lacked opportunities while the victims do have everything. That simple. Therefore there will always be apology to crime. Human Rights they say.

  3. Normally you have what is called “a trial”. This is a concept that goes way back in history. In its best form it is an examination of evidence and determination of facts, in order to establish guilt or innocence of the charges. Depending on the nature and gravity of the crime, penalties are imposed upon the guilty, largely to prevent other crimes from being committed.

    It occurs to me that as a society deteriorates, laws and perceptions of rules of conduct and procedure deteriorate. For example, in a well ordered society where property rights are respected, citizens expect to be untroubled walking the streets at night. As the society deteriorates, that expectation of being untroubled comes into question. After a while, with further deterioration, the expectation becomes that one can get into trouble walking a street at night. That becomes the norm.

    With further deterioration the expectation of a trial in which guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, comes into question. That expectation deteriorates. With that deterioration, the accusation and the guilt become one, regardless of proof. And execution does not differentiate between gravity of crimes. Given that between 10% and 25% of people arrested on charges are found not guilty after a trial, the idea of “accusation = guilt = execution” will lead to many deaths of innocent people.

    • Hmmm you should try to teach the concept of property to saint nancy martyr of the slums,I’ve read some strain of chimps are able to learn basic concepts,with a lot of patience maybe she could too, since she is a SQUATTER invanding someone elses property. I’m sure it’s because evil capitalists took away their opportunity to get a home and she had no choice but to steal someone else’s apartment.

    • the problem with OLP is that surely they kill criminals, but what happens when they kill someone innocents? they get a guy that looks alike, or they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets killed in the crossfire. We don’t know how many innocents were killed because anybody killed this way will just be stamped as a criminals and they’ll just carry on with their operation.

      And given the scenario where we want to ignore “human rights” (as I’d argue there are no human rights in venezuela), OLP killings would have a much bigger impact targeting pranes and high scale member of gangs.

  4. This story leaves you speechless; Venezuela is such a beautiful country, with beautiful people, I for the life of me cannot understand how the military can support a tyrant like Maduro. I guess I will never understand how a country can turn weapons on their citizens. Venezuela will recover from this dark moment, I hope Maduro is tried like Saddam Hussein in the World Court and is executed, for his crimes against humanity. He has fostered an environment that enabled the police to commit that awful atrocity, with no legal ramifications. Citizens of Venezuela just have faith and keep praying; as evidenced in history, tyrants never win or last.

  5. @Mike Collins: your blessed wishes are worth much more than anything – you and family have a very Merry Christmas

    PS: unfortunately this tyranny will be replaced by another and so on. For centuries to come. I’ll see you in Paradise where apparently we have a second chance in a timeless space of the Sith dimension. I’m sure we will be able to observe this anarchy unraveling.

  6. Very sad for the mother. I can’t imagine the hell this woman feels, having her son executed.

    What I want to know is, was she a Chavista?

    It may not seem pertinent to the author, but this reader wants to know more about how this all came about. A single mother squatting* in a central Caracas 4BR apartment with balcony… did all of this come courtesy of a omnipotent benevolent government that offers her what she needs but at the cost of what she loves?

    Was it worth it?


    *We were notified last month that some “rojo rojito” types has taken over my in-laws home in Venezuela after they chased off the caretaker. He notified the PNB but they don’t care.


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