By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Tomas Lucena, one of 500-plus delegates to Venezuela's polemical supra-Constitutional body the Constituent Assembly, was shot and killed Wednesday, the PSUV ruling party informed.
"We repudiate the vile assassination of the Constituent for Trujillo [a state in the Venezuelan Andes], Tomas Lucena. We extend our condolences to his parents, wife, children and friends", Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez wrote in a tweet.
"Tomas Lucena" was the number one trending topic in Venezuelan Twitter Wednesday.
News of Lucena's murder come only one day before a much-awaited new round in the dialogue talks between the governemnt of Nicolas Maduro and the opposition, which are set to resume Thursday and Friday in the Dominican Republic.
The very existence of the Constituent is a sticking sore point in the talks: the opposition says the pro-Maduro body was fraudulently constituted, its first actions were to take away power from the opposition-held National Assembly, and is not recognized by the United States, the Europeean Union, neighbors Brazil and Colombia as well as a majority of other countries in the world.
In related news, riots and looting took place in Ciudad Bolivar, Bolivar state for a third day in a row, Wednesday as well as in other areas of the oil-rich nation.
The opposition ratified Wednesday morning that it was going to attend the Dominican Republic meetings, but warned that, if the dialogue again failed (as have six previous, similar efforts) they would take to the streets in protest.
Lucena was murdered as he was seated in the driver's position inside a white car, near 16th street, in Valera, the capital city of Trujillo state. The deceased represented Trujillo's Escuque municipality in the Constituent Assembly.
The attacker or attackers shot Lucena, father of three, through the window glass three times at about 1 p.m. local time. All three shots hit that the Constituent delegate in the head, according to a report posted by local paper "Diario de Los Andes."
Leading respected national daily "El Nacional" said eyewitnesses told of a single man in a motorcycle as being the alleged hitman. Lucena's wife sat next to him during the murder, according also to the report.
The Constituent has been marred by violence since its inception on July 30th 2017. The previous day, a candidate to the legislative body was murdered and on the day of the actual election at least 10 anti-Maduro demonstrators were killed in protests, according to the "El Impulso" newspaper, although some NGOs say the actual number was closer to 15.
The violent repression resulted in 165 demonstrators and security forces killed between April and August 2017, according to local NGO "Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia.
No arrests have been reported in the Lucena murder case.