By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Early Friday morning in Caracas, 15 boys and young men were arrested in front of a public library by plainclothes agents who also arrested the library’s security guard. They were taken away without anybody notifying their parents. Some of the boys were as young as 11, according to Councilman Diego Scharifker, in what constitutes a statutory violation of Venezuela’s child-protection laws. No arrest warrants were produced: they were just mass-arrested, apparently for planning to protest the embattled administration of Nicolas Maduro.
The raid took place only hours after security forces felled David Vallenilla, 22, blocks away from that library, in the Chacao municipality of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
Vallenilla became the 75th victim of repression in 84 days of protest against Maduro. It doesn’t seem Maduro is ready to dial down repression, however, even if Vallenilla’s death has become a political nightmare for an already wildly unpopular President. Particularly now, when the father of the dead demonstrator says he not only was Maduro’s boss at one point, but that the President knew David Vallenilla as a child.MADURO KNEW MURDERED DEMONSTRATOR, SAYS FATHER
In an unexpected development, David Vallenilla Senior (the father) told national newspaper “El Nacional” that he not only was Maduro’s boss while the President was a bus driver in the late 1990’s, but that Maduro knew his murdered son as a child.
“Nicolas, of course there was a direct aggression against David Jose, whom you knew when he was little,” the elder Vallenilla says in a video posted by “El Nacional” of an interview he gave while he was retrieving his son’s remains at the coroner’s office in Eastern Caracas.
Earlier, David Jose Vallenilla stated: “I don’t want to say that I want justice because those are overused words. But I don’t want this to just remain as it is, Nicolas. He was not a hoodlum, he was a graduate student.”
Later in the video the grieving father pleads with the President: “Nicolas, please. I am David Jose, your boss. Friend, I call you friend because I respect you. You were a centered person. I always considered you a centered person. It’s in your hands that this is cleared up.”
Abel Vallenilla, one of David Vallenilla's uncles, told reporters at the morgue Friday morning that, yes, David is also related to pro-Maduro TV personality Winston Vallenilla.
The head of a government-owned TV station, Winston Vallenilla has often defended crowd control measures by the Maduro government, which often have had deadly results amongst demonstrators and even security forces.
Maduro seems bent on staying the path of repression that has caused dozens of deaths, thousands of personal injuries and hundreds of other human rights violations, including home invasion, false arrests, rape, robbery, etc.
Thursday afternoon, at roughly the same time Vallenilla was being given the coup de grace on the asphalt, Maduro termed the crowd-control efforts of National Guard and National Police as “heroic”.
During that same press conference he denied that security forces used lethal force in containing demonstrations, saying they used only “water and a little tear gas”.
Water cannons have injured several demonstrators, including opposition lawmaker Carlos Paparoni, who broke his skull when the stream of the cannon sent him crashing into the asphalt.
And the tear gas used in demonstrations is expired, as an inspection of spent casings has revealed, meaning Maduro’s security forces have incurred in Statute of Rome violations by using poison and/or poisonous substances.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the vast majority of those killed in demonstrations since April 6th are demonstrators, only 4 out of 75 are security forces. And others (such as NGOs and local media, including LAHT
) say the death toll from demonstrations is much higher than the official, with some 94 individuals killed since April 1st.