SANTA ELENA DE UAIREN, Venezuela—On Saturday, renowned Chavista revolutionary Eliecer Otaiza, 49, was found dead in the municipality of Baruta in Caracas. His body, struck by multiple bullet wounds, was identified yesterday afternoon.
Otaiza’s vehicle was also discovered with bullet marks in another part of Baruta, according to the Venezuelan Body of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigation (CICPC).
According to Communications Minister Delcy Rodriguez, President Nicolas Maduro has personally ordered an in-depth investigation of the crime.
At the time of his death, Otaiza was the president of the municipal council of Libertador, in Caracas. He held a doctorate in political science, formed part of the 1999 constituent assembly and was also the director of the National Land Institute (INTI), and a now extinct Intelligence Agency (DISIP).
Remembered by many as a young and recklessly brave rebel soldier, Otaiza played an important part in the events leading up to the Bolivarian revolution.
In 1999 on the live television program Aló Presidente, Chavez recalled Otaiza’s response to the 1992 failed coup led by lieutenant colonel Chavez against then president Carlos Andres Perez.
Only 27 at the time, Otaiza was not present for the February 4th coup attempt because he was studying abroad and Chavez had not told him what they were planning. Upon hearing what happened, “he returned to the country, to the army, and started working,” Chavez recalled. “He got into the jail [where I was being held] in Yare, dressed as a woman, and he looked very ugly to be frank. Who is that big woman who just came in here?”
Otaiza told Chavez he had three helicopters waiting on hand to spring him from jail, but was told in response to not be rash, and that there was work to be done outside. From that moment, Otaiza began organizing groups and spreading revolutionary thought through different social and military sectors.
Later that year, on the 27th of November, another group of soldiers set out to finish the task that Chavez was still in jail for. That day, Otaiza survived four bullets to the chest after trying to enter the presidential palace, Miraflores, by force accompanied by only one other rebel soldier, who lost his life.
Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said yesterday evening, “Old companion, comrade, friend, man of November 27th, an important piece of the revolution, whose fundamental characteristics were bravery and loyalty. It’s so painful, so sad. A great promoter of the Robinson (literacy) mission, Venezuela will always have his political action present.”
Otaiza’s body will lie in repose during a three day public ceremony in the Libertador municipal council.