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Venezuela: Affidavit by Father Dorindo Burgos

By Miguel Octavio

My name is Dorindo Burgo Arias. Nacional ID number 15792115. I was born on February 6th. 1963 in a town in the Leon province named Celadilla del Paramo. I am Spanish by birth. I belong to religious congregation of the Marists brothers. I arrived in Venezuela on Sept. 26 1982. I nationalized on Sept. 24th. 1992. on Feb. 29th. Around 1 PM I went to Plaza Francia of Altamira with my flag around my neck and the Constitution in my pocketÖI addressed those in uniform and from a distance of three to four meters I read to them Art. 68 of the Constitution which readsĒ The citizens have the right to protest, peacefully, without weapons. It is forbidden to use firearms or toxic substances in the control of peaceful demonstrations" I told them about the crimes that do not prescribe, of the need to achieve peace that we are all brothers and we have to search for peace. I told them I came to them in peace and was not going to confront anyone; I was only asking that the rights of the citizens be respected. I move back to where most of the demonstrators were.

After a while we begin to advance, the guards shoot plastic bullets and tear gas indiscriminately (I have participated in many rallies, I have swallowed a lot of smoke. I have never felt so much need to vomit, burning eyes, desperation). Many kids from the surrounding buildings have to be aided by the Red Cross and some taken to hospitals. What impotence, what outrage! There is nobody to denounce this to. The guards throw bombs the opposition retreats. The smoke goes away and starts advancing, so on and so forth. In one of these advances, they leave lots of cartridges on the street, with D. Lopez and some photographers; I pick up some cartridges and put them in my belly bag. We try to establish a dialog with the officials that direct the guards. We try to reach an agreement we will only reach a certain point they will not throw bombs or bullets. From the back someone throws some stones and bottles. We reach no agreement the guards begin a razzia and advance.

We disperse through the side streets. They keep throwing bombs, the guards take the square. With three more people I take refuge in the lower part of the square, next to the entrance to the subway, which is closed. The wind blows takes the toxic gases away. We breath, after a while we try to leave the square, we se the guards and go back. The guards come down; with them there is a photographer. They point at us with rifles, they push us, they scream at us, they insult us, they search us, they accuse us of throwing stones (my principles and values still donít allow me to do this) they ask me to open the belly bag, they see the cartridges and say I was the one that fired. They see they are theirs. They put us in a line. They take my flag away, my cell phone (which I havenít seen since and never will). They hit me and I donít feel it.

I ask to talk to their commander and they tell me to shut up. They put me in a motorcycle with a guard in front another in the back. They take me to a truck. Itís a closed truck. They throw me in the truck like a sack of potatoes; all surrounded by insults, hitting me swear words, repeating at all times, donít lift your heads. More insults, more beating. Once in a while they open the door, more people detained. They keep insulting us, beating us. Throwing the new people on top of us. They threaten with throwing a tear gas bomb inside. I recall what I lived before, the truck is closed. Time goes by, the guards get on the truck. They keep beating us, with their sticks, with their helmets, with their hands, insulting us with words I would not use. The worst part is the position, I have difficulty breathing, I canít move I have two or three people on top of me; my chest is over a knee. My shoulder against the division of the truck. I try to shout I canít breathe! I am asphyxiating!They tell us to move. They keep beating us insulting us. There is a boot on my shoulder I see it belongs to a guardsman. He presses it. The truck is moving, I think the worst. I start praying. A guard asks: Are you a squalid ?(nickname for the opposition). I say yes I am, if you mean I am against Chavez I am a squalid. He asks what you do? I tell them I am a priestÖthey treated me better alter that...

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