A Very Strange Kidnapping in Venezuela

By Caridad

HAVANA TIMES – A Venezuelan millionaire is locked up for a kidnapping. That might be an interesting headline for a news article. Or the premise for an action movie.

However, the story behind the headlines is too unimaginative to waste the lead spot on it.  Although Hollywood movies are full of unimaginative stories, aren’t they?

A little over 4 months ago, towards the end of 2021, there was a news item so unusual that it went from trending on social media to become an article in the online newspapers: a young woman had been kidnapped in Barinas, Venezuela.

Her family immediately posted photos of the woman, asking everyone to share them in order to locate her whereabouts.

I’m not clear about how they learned she’d been kidnapped, since according to the news articles it wasn’t until March that the kidnappers asked for the astounding sum of US $750,000.

Yes, almost nothing.

It wasn’t until May, it seems, that the family managed to get together this tiny amount. According to the information offered by Venezuela’s Body of Scientific Penal and Criminal Investigations (CICPC), that was the moment they succeeded in capturing two members of the “gang”, who had been assigned to pick up the money. Following a brief period of coercion, these individuals confessed where the kidnap victim, Franyelis Guerrero, was being held.

That’s how they found the house on a farm that apparently belonged to a “millionaire lawyer who was formerly part of CICPC.” I put this in quotes, because that’s how many of the news headlines catalogued it. They claimed he had also held responsibilities in Venezuela’s ruling party, the United Socialist Party, but I can’t be sure. At this point, it’s beside the point, since the rest of his “colleagues” were members of the Bolivarian National Guard, a branch of the Venezuelan Armed Forces.

Although many outside of Venezuela may be somewhat open-mouthed, in our everyday lives here, this rates something like a “Meh!”

An uncle of the young woman was also among those implicated.

Following the glorious rescue of Franyelis, with photos and videos so that all of us could observe the extraordinary work of this special investigations team, the movie abruptly ended. Anyway, by then, we were all about to change the channel to watch the next story of crime, drama and passion.

Then, after the Public Prosecutor’s office had already announced on its website and on Twitter the results of the initial court hearing for the four people implicated in the kidnapping, something unexpected happened.  Here’s a fragment from their statement: “Representatives of the 46th National Prosecutor’s Office, with experience in cases of Extortion and Kidnapping, plus the 14th Prosecutor’s Division of the State of Barinas, charged the three men and one woman with allegedly participating in the crime of kidnapping, as outlined in the Law against Kidnapping and Extorsion.

“Once the evidence supporting conviction had been presented by the representatives of the penal action team, the (…) Tribunal ruled to jail Guerrero’s captors, who remain locked up at the CICPC delegation in Barinas State.”

Then, in a new twist, the media began to broadcast news that the police forces announced they had just killed the “millionaire lawyer” for trying to flee while they were transporting him to Caracas to appear at his court hearing.

Here’s where you begin to fish for the remote on your television to replay the video, because either this is very bad movie script, or the editor was having a few drinks while on the job.

Was he arraigned or not in the Caracas courts? Didn’t this happen in Barinas? Why did the Public Prosecutor’s office post the note before it happened, then erase the contents of their web page and their Tweet?

When we read the description of events, we realize that the editor isn’t the guilty party. Or maybe just a little, for not warning the screenwriter that the story hadn’t been well told. I leave you with the description of these latter events, so that you don’t think I invented it:

“Ernesto Javier Sierra Davila, charged in the kidnapping of Franyeli Guerrero, has died in an alleged confrontation, while being transported to Caracas. Officials from the CICPC were transferring him in an official vehicle bound for Caracas. At kilometer 93, according to police information, the intellectual author of Franyeli Guerrero’s kidnapping used his handcuffs to choke the driver, causing him to lose control. Following a struggle in the vehicle, it hit a truck and stopped at the edge of a forested area. Before getting out of the vehicle, he [the lawyer] disarmed another official and ran towards the woods. He was chased, and an armed confrontation followed in which he was killed. A CICPC member was wounded in the event. Authorities are investigating the case.”

I should add that in the only photo we have of the “millionaire lawyer”, he appears slightly dirty and beaten up, as if there’d been a great struggle to take him prisoner, with his hands behind his back. That is, with his hands handcuffed behind him. Can you imagine this subject doing everything described in the statement, with his hands handcuffed behind his back?

If I were a millionaire and had a gang under my control, the least I’d expect would be for them to come help me just before (well, before or after, I’m not sure) they brought me to court. If I have to pit myself against some officials all by myself, I’d be better off not paying that team of good-for-nothings, right?

But, of course, I’m joking, because I still don’t understand why they wasted so much money on such a bad movie.

Read more from Caridad’s diary here