Saturday, January 17, 2009

In memoriam Orel Sambrano

My friend Andres just wrote with horrible news. His uncle Orel Sambrano, a courageous Venezuelan journalist and radio commentator who has bravely opposed both the Chávez government and the drug cartels that infest his homeland, was gunned down yesterday.
Venezuelan lawyer and journalist Orel Sambrano was assassinated this Friday at approximately 3:00 p.m. The well-known host on Radio America took three shots from unknown persons traveling on a motorcycle.

Sambrano had gotten out of his vehicle and was walking toward a video-rental store when he was intercepted by assassins who, without speaking, fired the shots; he died instantly. One of the shots hit him in the head.

The journalist's dead body was taken to the Valencia morgue and the police began investigating the case by interviewing potential witnesses, according to the press.

This is the second attack directed at journalists to occur this year in Venezuela, following several attacks by unknown persons last March, in the state of Portuguesa, against Rafael Finol, the political editor of the magazine El Regional. Finol survived those attacks.

The Carabobo chapter of the National College of Journalists deplored the assassination of Sambrano and called a meeting to take appropriate measures and, as well, to urge the authorities to investigate the crimes.
That's my clumsy translation of this article. (Thanks to Daniela and Edwin for helping me with the words I didn't know.) From his e-mail I gather that Andres's instinctive reaction was to suspect the Venezuelan government; but according to this article the mayor of Valencia blames the assassination on the narcomafia whom Sambrano had also attacked. Not that I particularly trust the mayor of Valencia; but at the very least it is obvious that Sambrano had not confined himself to only one set of potentially deadly enemies -- any man who is willing publicly to take on both the drug cartels and Chavez's government, is a very brave man indeed.

Those of us who live in America -- even those of us who think Obama is a disastrous choice for President -- sometimes need to be reminded that our leaders, however much they might be morally capable of murder (and you'll never convince me either LBJ or for that matter FDR wouldn't have killed without a qualm had he been certain he could get away with it), are constrained by the most successful political system in the history of the world, if "successful" is defined to mean "most effective, and for the longest time, in protecting the ordinary citizen from the depradations of those among them who would deprive them of life, liberty, and the opportunity to pursue happiness." My friend Alexandra and her family, and now my friend Andres and his family, can tell us that there are many places in the world where simply to speak your mind in public is an act of mortal courage. As the Soviet Russian once said privately to his American friend, "The difference between our political systems is really quite simple. In our country we are free to speak and to assemble. In your country, you are free after speaking and assembling..."

Requiescat in pace, Sr. Sambrano.

And the rest of you...please pray for my friend Andres.


At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

c'est avec beaucoup d'éotion que je viens d'apprendre la fin tragique de mon ami ORELE. Je pense très fort à sa femme que j'ai eu le plaisir de connaître et de sa fille. Je garderai de lui une image forte d'un homme brillant, généreux et bon vivant. Je suis contente qu'il ait profité de la vie jusqu'au bout. J'espère que ceux qui ont commis une telle horreur, seront punis comme ils le méritent.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Ken Pierce said...

Comme espérons nous tous...

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