Robert Serra, a 27-year-old legislator of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and the National Assembly's (AN) youngest parliamentarian, was found dead in his Caracas home yesterday.
Authorities confirmed last night that Serra and his partner Maria Herrera had been murdered in their residence. According to daily newspaper Ultimas Noticias, unofficial reports say that Serra’s body showed signs of torture before he was killed.
The minister of interior affairs, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, informed state television VTV last night that an investigation had been launched into the murders.
“They were horribly assassinated in their house … a motive still hasn’t been determined, what we can assure is that there is a specialised team at the site to investigate who is responsible for this act,” he stated, while asking PSUV members to “remain calm”.
Serra was a rising figure within Chavismo, and had been a prominent student leader in the PSUV. Originally from the western city of Maracaibo, the law graduate and criminologist also spearheaded initiatives to tackle violent crime in Venezuela. He was elected to the AN for the PSUV in 2010.
Tributes to Serra from members of the government and PSUV came pouring in upon the news of his murder. President Nicolas Maduro first reacted to the news on Twitter, writing: “We will continue your example Robert, loyal and firm in the path of the revolution that you always defended with passion.”
National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello told VTV that he felt “immense pain” at the “horrendous crime” and loss of “one of the PSUV’s new, best generation”.
Former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles recognised Serra’s death on Twitter. However, he tried to tie the killing to high crime rates in Venezuela, for which the opposition blames the government.
“The death of any Venezuelan deserves our most energetic rejection, there is a national clamour for violence to be ended, peace to the soul of Dep. Robert Serra,” he wrote, continuing: “Don’t forget that in our mistreated homeland 50 Venezuelans are killed every day.”
Several Chavista commentators called Serra’s murde part of a strategy of targeted assassinations and an “economic war” to undermine the Bolivarian government.
Writing on popular pro-government community forum Aporrea, political science professor Jesus Silva wrote: “It’s not a myth, it’s a reality: there is a national plan for the targeted assassination of mid-level socialist political leaders.”
He said: “300 NGOs are being financed by governments and companies in and outside of the country to implement political terrorism in Venezuela.”
History of assassinations
Robert Serra’s murder joins the list of other assassinations of government figures. In April, PSUV local councilor and former intelligence chief Eliecer Otaiza was murdered in Caracas.
Serra’s bodyguard, detective Alexis Barreto, was also assassinated two years ago.
Alleged assassination plots and attempts have also been reported against top government officials. Last October, then price control enforcer Eduardo Saman survived a suspicious armed assault that he said was an assassination attempt.
The cases recall the car bomb assassination of state lawyer Danilo Anderson in 2004, who at the time was responsible for prosecuting several anti-government figures suspected of participating in the 2002 coup against the administration of Hugo Chavez.
[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis.]