The family of an anti-government protester have told of their grief and fear after he was shot dead by a police officer who was ‘just obeying orders’.
Johnny Godoy, 29, was gunned down outside his home in a poor Caracas district, two days after he helped organize a march calling for Venezuela’s hated socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro to quit.
Now his cousin Marbelis Paredes has told how his family has been devastated by his violent death and how his loved-ones fear further retribution from government security forces.
Johnny Godoy, 29, was gunned down outside his home in Caracas, two days after he helped organize a march calling for Venezuela’s hated socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro to quit
Mr Godoy (pictured) was about to become a father. But now his finance has cut contact with all of the family because she fears the police will arrest her and take her baby away
Mr Godoy’s cousin Marbelis, 26 (pictured) told MailOnline that the family are devastated, but fear that police will break down their doors again
‘Everyone in the family is hurt and in pain,’ Marbelis, 26, told MailOnline. ‘We are devastated.
‘We had a family reunion in December, the first time we had all got together for 14 years, and it was Johnny who organized it. He was at the centre of the family.
‘He was kind and charismatic. He was always looking out for people.
Mirabelis, a mother-of-two, told MailOnline: ‘Johnny is a popular guy. He organized for some of the local people in our area to join the anti-government demonstration. A film of Johnny went viral
‘But he told his family he had to go out into the streets and protest because he was sick of the miserable conditions that we are forced to live in.’
Now the family live in fear that the police will break down their doors again.
She added: ‘Johnny was about to become a father. But now his finance has cut contact with all of the family because she fears the police will arrest her and take her baby away.
‘His mother is sick with worry and frightened that the police will come again.’
Some 70 activists have died in police clamp-downs on anti-government protests across Venezuela during the latest uprising against President Nicolas Maduro’s regime.
Johnny, a well-known street trader in the poor El Sinai district of Caracas, organized for locals to take part in a huge anti-government demonstration on 23rd January.
Footage of Johnny waving the Venezuela flag, shouting anti-government slogans and cursing President Maduro became an internet sensation.
But two days later members of Venezuela’s feared FAES para-military police street appeared in his street at breakfast time, brandishing a photograph of Johnny and asking where he was.
Footage of Johnny waving the Venezuela, shouting anti-government slogans and cursing President Maduro became an internet sensation
President Nicolas Maduro is facing a fight to cling on to power in Venezuela as his socialist dream collapses amid wide protests across the country
Officers beat him up and shot him in the stomach when he struggled to get away.
One policeman told his mother they had been ‘following orders’, when she asked why they had killed her son.
Mirabelis, a mother-of-two, told MailOnline: ‘Johnny is a popular guy. He organized for some of the local people in our area to join the anti-government demonstration. A film of Johnny went viral.
‘But two days later the FAES turned up and started showing Johnny’s picture around and asking for him.
‘Johnny came out of the house to talk to them. It was breakfast time and he was barefoot and not wearing a shirt.
‘The police started to beat him up and pushed him down the road. Then they shot in the stomach when he struggled to get away.’
His heart-broken mother Cecilia Buitrago has suffered a nervous breakdown following her son’s brutal death.
In a terrifying account, she described how she heard the bullets that killed her son and then confronted the officer who shot him.
‘I watched from upstairs as the police aimed the guns at my son,’ Mrs Buitrago, 58, told El Pais newspaper.
‘I went inside the house that’s when I hear the gunshots. I did not want to believe that they had shot him.
‘The police came into my house and told me Johnny had died in a shoot-out. I told them there had been no exchange of fire.
‘He replied; ‘We’re just following orders.’
The paramilitary FAES police and government authorities have refused comment on Johnny Godoy’s death.
Marbelis Paredes, who works for Caracas food distribution charity ‘Alimenta La Solidaridad’ how she fears retribution from the police for speaking out.
But she says she feel a duty to tell the world about the violence meted to Venezuela’s people by Maduro’s hated regime.
She said: ‘I am frightened for my safety but we cannot live in fear.
‘We have a duty to stand up and be counted so that we can bring a brighter future to Venezuela.
‘Hopefully from the tragedy of Johnny’s death will come some good.’
This interview was made possible by the Caracas charity ‘Mi Convive’, a non-profit organization that helps victims of violence. It is led by Esteban Farias, Leandro Buzon and Roberto Patino.