GRAN TARAJAL, Spain – Marina Boscan arrived in the Canary Islands from Venezuela a year ago looking for peace from being persecuted for being the widow of Gen. Manuel Heinz, one of the army officers involved in putting down the 1989 popular uprising in Caracas known as the “Caracazo,” and the fear of returning to a country where someone said “another one is getting away” as she was leaving.
Born in Caracas in 1960, she met and married Manuel Heinz de Aspurua, a soldier of German descent who joined the Venezuelan armed forces in 1957 and steadily rose in the ranks.
In February 1989, thousands of Venezuelans poured into the streets to protest the budget-balancing measures taken by President Carlos Andres Perez with the aid of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Taxes went up and the price of gasoline soared.
Some 300 people were killed in what then-Lieut. Col Hugo Chavez considered the first popular act of the Bolivarian Revolution.
On Feb. 27 a military and police operation called Plan Avila was launched to control the demonstrators and looters, during which Gen. Manuel Heinz was head of the Caracas-based Strategic Army Command.
Marina told EFE it was a “horrible time with deaths and looting” and that her husband predicted that one day Hugo Chavez would become the leader of that movement. Later, Heinz would often question Chavez about the circumstances of the Caracazo.
Once Chavez came to power, she said, “he started getting rid of all who were involved at that time,” and in 2006 issued a detention order against Heinz that forced him to appear before the authorities, ill though he was, every day until he died in 2012.
Gen. Heinz always insisted that he was innocent, because all he did was apply the Plan Avila, and that “the guilty parties were really Chavez and his sidekicks at the time.”
One day before he died, Manuel Heinz heard Hugo Chavez say on the air that Nicolas Maduro would be his successor, to which he commented “when he’s president, Venezuela is finished,” the widow said.
After the general died, Marina and the children believed all those troubles “would be buried” with him, but they continued to be persecuted.
With Nicolas Madura now president, Marina began to repeatedly hear the words “be careful” and receive threats.
As a result, she packed her bags and moved to Panama, but on her trips back to Venezuela to see her parents, she would be subjected to interrogations.
Even in Panama she was always running into military officers linked to Maduro, so she moved again, this time to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
There she makes her living cleaning houses and as a caretaker for children and the elderly, while still being told by her father on the phone to stay away from Venezuela, because “we don’t know what could happen when you land at the airport.”