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It has been five years, and it seems time has not passed in Ana’s house. In the hallway is still intact the mark of the shot by a policeman that turned her son, one night in 2017, into one of the 14,220 cases of extrajudicial executions perpetrated in Venezuela from 2012 until July this year, according to the NGO Cofavic.
Since then, Ana —the alias of this mother who prefers to remain anonymous— has had to “live with grief” on her shoulders.
Every Thursday night, she relives the moment when police officers burst into her home in a Caracas slum and forced her to go up to the second floor of the house to be alone with her 23-year-old son, whom they tortured and killed, while she and her family listened to everything, according to her account.
“I am not so much afraid for myself, but afraid for my brothers (…) those of us who live in the neighborhoods are considered criminals. But no, here in the neighborhoods, there are also professional people and good people,” the woman recalled to EFE, who fears for her family.
Now, she spends her days between her work as an informal trader, with which she helps the three grandchildren her son left her, her constant visits to the courts or to the Attorney General’s Office to insist that the death of her relative be investigated, and occasional meetings in which she receives the embrace of other women who have gone through the same.
In Caracas alone, the Monitor de Víctimas (Victim’s Monitor), another homicide registry organization, has counted 1,013 murders at the hands of the police since 2017, a figure that —they believe— is below the real one, as many of these events are outlined as confrontations or resistance to authority.
“It is not just the number, it is not just the number of the person who was killed, but also the family that is left behind,” explained Sofía Cardona, a psychologist and part of the “Voces Visibles” (Visible Voices) program to which Ana belongs and with which the NGO Mi Convive set out to provide psychosocial support and train relatives of victims of “police lethality.”
The idea is to support people “who are still here and who continue to struggle” after losing their relatives, said the specialist.
In Venezuela, human rights violations are being investigated by the UN International Mission, which assured that police forces perpetrated more than 200 murders from September 2020 until its second report in March 2021.