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World

Vandals in Venezuela Target Ex-President's Tomb

Rómulo Gallegos was also one of Venezuela's best known authors before his democratically-elected ascension to the presidency

Former Venezuelan President Rómulo Gallegos' tomb was robbed and vandalized in Caracas, photo: Twitter
1 year ago

CARACAS, Venezuela — Vandals have desecrated the tomb of Rómulo Gallegos, a former president and the country’s most-beloved novelist, his family said.

The apparent defacing of Gallegos’ grave in a Caracas cemetery is the latest and most-shocking case of grave robbery in the increasingly lawless nation. It was reported Wednesday by Gallegos’ granddaughter, who said that with the attack on the tomb a piece of Venezuela’s history had been stolen.

gallegos

Stealing bones for Voodoo rituals has become all too common in Venezuela’s current lawless condition. Photo: Twitter

“They stole my history and part of every Venezuelan’s history,” Theotiste Gallegos said on Facebook. Alongside her post were photos of a grave with its marble tombstones thrown wide open and covered in red earth.

Gallegos was author of Venezuela’s best-known novel, the 1929 classic “Dona Barbara.” He won the first fully democratic presidential elections in 1947 but was overthrown nine months later in a military coup.

Robbing crypts for marble and to supply bones to practitioners of Voodoo religions has long plagued Venezuela. But some say such crimes are becoming more frequent as the country spins further out of control and an economic crisis forces Venezuelans scrounge for anything of value.

While opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expressed outrage, pro-government allies accused them of trying to score political points and raised doubts about the veracity of the reports.

Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodríguez said he would request permission from Gallegos’ family to send a prosecutor to investigate. He also ordered around-the-clock security to protect the tomb.

gallego photo

Rómulo Gallegos was also author to Venezuela’s best known work of fiction, the 1929 novel “Dona Barbara.” Photo: Twitter

Meanwhile, Culture Minister Freddy Ñáñez blasted a photo on social media standing over what looks like Gallegos’ recently cemented-over tomb. He criticized the act of vandalism but said luckily the writer’s remains hadn’t been removed. The former president’s daughter, Sonia Gallegos, also said nothing was stolen.

The extent of the damage could not be verified.

Reports also surfaced that a second former president had his tomb damaged in the same General Cemetery. The son of former military rule Isaías Medina Angarita, whose presidency preceded Gallegos by a few years, told El Nacional newspaper that his father’s grave had also been vandalized.

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