Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela beauty queen: Politicians unite against crime

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Media captionCatharina Moh reports on the investigation

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has met the governors of all 23 states and mayors from the most violent cities to co-ordinate action against crime.

The meeting comes after a public outcry over the murder of a former beauty queen and actress, Monica Spear, who was shot dead on Monday.

Mr Maduro urged all politicians to put their differences aside and work together to end rising violence.

Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Ms Spear, 29, was murdered along with her British-born ex-husband Thomas Berry, 39, in their car.

Their five-year-old daughter, who was shot in the leg, is reportedly in a stable condition.

The attack, thought to have been a botched robbery, has highlighted Venezuela's skyrocketing murder rate.

Ahead of the meeting, the president announced he would act "with an iron fist," saying that the full weight of the law would be brought to bear on the perpetrators of the crime.

"The event has undoubtedly touched us all," Mr Maduro said at the presidential palace in the capital, Caracas.

He called on all politicians to find a joint solution to the "key problems of our society".


The Venezuelan opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, who is the governor of Miranda state, also met and shook hands with the president.

It is the first time the two men have met since last year's disputed presidential election. Mr Capriles has never conceded victory to Mr Maduro.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Spear's murder brought together two bitter enemies, President Nicolas Maduro (L) and opposition leader Henrique Capriles (R)

The president's meeting with governors and mayors was announced on Tuesday by Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez.

"The fight against violence has to involve all the authorities so the criminals know they'll face the full rigour of the law, because we've had enough already," he told a news conference.

He said five people had been arrested on suspicion of committing the "vile killing" of Ms Spear, and promised to "use everything we have, the police, the army, against those who will not go down the path of peace".

Armed robberies and kidnappings are not unusual in Venezuela, but the death of the former beauty queen, who was a popular actress after being crowned Miss Venezuela in 2004, has been condemned across the country.

Fans of Ms Spear, actors and others in the entertainment, rallied in Caracas on Wednesday to demand more be done to fight crime.

Mr Capriles posted a message on Twitter addressed to the president calling for a nationwide drive against violence.

"Nicolas Maduro, I suggest we put aside our deep differences and get together to fight the lack of security, as one bloc," he wrote.

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