Local residents protest over death of 5 year-old abuse victim; heavy rain leaves eight dead and almost five thousand houses damaged; controversy over Nativity Scene that features Chávez in place of Jesus.
News of the death of a 5 year-old boy at the hands of his mother in the small western town of Guanare has shocked Venezuela this week, leading to local residents ransacking homes and businesses belonging to those involved in the case.
Gelliknet González Quevado claimed that her only son, who died in hospital on December 1, sustained fatal injuries after falling from a motorbike.
But initial coroners’ reports revealed signs of long-term physical and sexual abuse, resulting in the arrest of González, 30, and her supposed lesbian lover, Anney Montilla Oropeza, 25. Montilla’s mother, Valentina Oropeza de Montilla and aunt, Doris Oropeza, were also detained along with local nurse Yure Hernández Medina.
A group of students from the Universidad Nacional Experimental de Los Llanos Occidentales Ezequiel Zamora (National Polytechnic University of Ezequiel Zamora in the Western Planes – Unellez) gathered outside the detention centre where the suspects are currently held and threw stones at the building, demanding that detainees be released to suffer their fate at the hands of the angry public.
Messages sent over the BlackBerry Messenger services invited locals to burn a pasty business belonging to Doris Oropeza and local store owned by a friend of her ex-husband. Doris’s house, where she lived with Valentina Oropeza de Montilla, was also ransacked and burnt to the ground.
The ex-police chief of the state of Portuguesa, Carlos Gárate, asked the media to minimise publicity surrounding the case in order to reduce the shockwaves of violence in Guanare and ensure a succesful trial.
‘We have yet to arrest other people and we do not wish for the press to release names, as the other suspects may escape. They [the media] may just say that there was a strange death and that the case is being investigated,’ Gárate told journalists last week.
But local and national media have shown widespread interest in the background of the suspects, who seem to have been involved in a complex love-triangle. Caracas-based newspaper El Nacional reported Gelliknet González and Anney Montilla had a violent affair on the Caribbean island of Margarita before returning to Guanare with the boy three months before his death, while Últimas Noticias claimed that Montilla tortured the boy in revenge for González’s having an affair with a man.
In other news, heavy rains have claimed eight lives over five Venezuelan states, Minister of the Interior and Justice Tarek El Aissami reported on Friday.
El Aissimi indicated that two people died in Miranda state, five in Zulia state and one in the Capital District. He also talked about damaged housing across the country.
‘We have 4,799 damaged houses, 1096 out of which collapsed or suffered structural damages,’ El Aissami explained.
The state has opened four new refuge centres in anticipation of more heavy rain.
Finally, a Chávez Nativity Scene showing the polemical president stood before the traditional manger has rocked the crib in Caracas, Reuters reported on Friday.
The Nativity, created by employees of the Women’s Ministry, features the Christmas biblical characters alongside some of Chávez’s most popular policies and idols during his 13-year rule.
Symbolising his achievements in urban infrastructure is a tiny cable car travelling up to a replica slum.
In the middle of the model stands Chávez brandishing the Venezuelan constitution next to a figurine of Simón Bolívar – a figure who has influence much of the president’s rhetoric.
Elsewhere, there is a photo of Chávez hugging a child.
‘Like Christianity, the revolution is all about love,’ said a Women’s Ministry worker, Yasmina Ereu. ‘Some people are fascinated. Others don’t like it. But this is a democratic country. Everyone is welcome to their opinion.’