Venezuela: three unionists murdered

Three leftist Venezuelan unionists were shot dead the night of Nov. 27 in the city of Cagua, southwest of Caracas in Aragua state, just days after two of them ran unsuccessfully in Nov. 23 state and municipal elections. In what appeared to be a planned assassination, one or two armed men on a motorbike gunned the unionists down as they were leaving a nightclub. The victims were Richard Gallardo, president of the Aragua branch of the National Workers Union (UNT), the main leftist labor confederation; Carlos Requena, a UNT national coordinator; and Luis Hernández, the general secretary of the union at Pepsi Cola de Venezuela’s plant in Villa de Cura in southern Aragua.

The three men were also leaders in the Left Socialist Unity party (USI). Gallardo had been the USI candidate for deputy from Zamora municipality to the Aragua legislature, while Hernández ran for major of Zamora on the USI ticket, losing to Aldo Lovera from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the party of President Hugo Chávez Frias. Some media noted that Hernández had planned to file a challenge on Nov. 28 to the voting results in the mayoral race. But pro-Chávez media, the USI and UNT spokesperson Orlando Chirinos stressed that on Nov. 27 Gallardo, Requena and Hernández had been participating with activities with 400 workers at the Alpina food processing plant who said they had been attacked by state police. Aragua’s current governor is Didalco BolĂ­var, an opponent of Chávez; the PSUV won the state back with the election of Aragua Mario Isea on Nov. 23.

Supporters of the murdered unionists protested on Nov. 28, forcing stores to close in Villa de Cura. Unionists and the USI have called for an investigation by the national government. Some people have pointed out that Alpina is owned by Colombians and that political assassinations in Colombia often involve similar attacks by killers on motorbikes. (USI press release, Nov. 28 via Aporrea; Prensa Latina, Nov. 28; El Universal, Venezuela, Nov. 28; El Nacional, Venezuela, Nov. 29; Venezuelanalysis.com, Nov. 29)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 30

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