Caracas — Gunmen killed a former Miss Venezuela and her British-born partner in front of their young daughter in an attack that shocked the crime-plagued nation, authorities said Tuesday.
Monica Spear, a 29-year-old soap opera star, and Thomas Henry Berry, 39, were killed in what appears to have been a botched robbery after their car broke down on a highway in northwestern Venezuela late Monday, police and prosecutors said.
Their daughter, five-year-old Maya Berry Spear, was wounded in the right leg but was stable after receiving medical treatment after a crime that put a harsh spotlight on Venezuela’s soaring homicide rate.
Five people have been detained and were interrogated in connection with the killings, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said after a televised meeting with President Nicolas Maduro, who vowed to use an “iron hand” to crack down on crime.
The family was driving on a highway when their car hit a blunt object that had been placed on the road, forcing them to pull over, said forensic police director Jose Gregorio Sierralta. There are suggestions that the object was deliberately placed there as part of a planned armed robbery.
Spear waved down a tow truck, which stopped to help on the road between Puerto Cabello and Valencia in the state of Carabobo, Sierralta said.
But as the two truck workers operated the crane, five armed men emerged on the road.
The truck’s operators fled to a police station about 1.5 kilometers (one mile) away while the mother, father and child locked themselves in their car in a desperate attempt to shield themselves from the killers.
But “the criminals fired multiple shots at the vehicle” before fleeing without stealing anything, Sierralta said.
Investigators impounded the couple’s car and took testimony from the two tow truck operators.
Spear, who was a quarter-finalist in the 2005 Miss Universe contest, appeared in the Miami-based Telemundo series “Pasion Prohibida” (“Forbidden Passion”) and “Flor Salvaje” (“Savage Flower”).
The dark-haired actress, who lived in Miami, was on holiday in her native Venezuela. She had posted videos of the countryside and herself horse riding on Instagram in the last couple of days.
Her husband was born in Britain but has Venezuelan citizenship.
“This is a massacre,” said Maduro, who vowed to curb the country’s runaway violence during his presidential campaign last year.
“This violence is a sickness that we have,” he said from the Miraflores presidential palace.
Maduro called some 100 mayors and governors to an urgent meeting on Wednesday to coordinate action against crime.
Venezuelans who work in movies, theater and TV called a rally for Wednesday in Caracas to denounce the oil-rich country’s epidemic of street violence.
Venezuela is deeply divided between supporters and critics of the late populist president Hugo Chavez and his successors. NGOs and the government give different figures on just how dangerous Venezuela is to live in. But Maduro made an appeal for this killing not to be used for political gain.
“I take my responsibility to the maximum,” the socialist leader said, warning the killers that “whoever wants to kill will see an iron hand.”
Venezuela has one of the world’s highest murder rates, with 79 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, according to the non-profit Venezuelan Observatory of Violence.
The interior ministry, however, gave a lower murder rate of 39 homicides per 100,000.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who refused to concede defeat to Maduro in presidential elections last year, reacted to the killings by calling on his rival to put aside “deep differences and unite against the lack of security, as one bloc.”
The beauty queen’s killing shocked fellow artists in Venezuela, a country which is passionate about soap operas and the Miss Universe contenders it regularly produces.
Actress Gaby Espino, who lives in Miami, said she would never return to her home country.
“This is the day-to-day life in our country. We have all left Venezuela, fleeing in fear, terrified because this is the reality of our country. And today it happened to Monica,” Espino told the Telemundo network.
“I love my country, but I won’t set another foot in Venezuela,” she said.
Venezuelan telenovela director Leonardo Padron said he was “absolutely saddened, horrified, speechless, over the murder of my dear Monica Spear! My God!”
Telemundo, a leading Spanish-language network in the United States, said in a statement that it was “deeply shocked and saddened by the horrible crime that hit our dear actress Monica Spear and her family.”
Jencarlos Canela, Spear’s American co-star and love interest in “Pasion Prohibida,” expressed grief on Twitter, writing: “I am speechless. I will miss you my friend @MonicaSpear.”
Addressing Spear’s daughter, he added: “My pretty, beautiful Maya, I love you. You are not alone!”
By Robert Miranda
The recent decision to dismiss most the charges filed against Palermo’s pizza by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is not only a vindication for Palermo’s, but also is egg on the face of State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, who from the very beginning of the bullying attacks against the company, sided with Voces de la Frontera in its quest to destroy them from the start, Palermo’s pizza indicated it had no option but to dismiss over 80 undocumented workers from its payroll because of an ICE audit that was done at the company.
Seeking to help these fired workers, Palermo’s invited Voces de la Frontera to assist with helping the workers with their immigration status–most of the workers let go were undocumented.
What took place was basically a Voces de la Frontera motivated campaign to charge Palermo’s pizza with inventing the ICE audit as the cause for firing the undocumented workers because of their union-organizing activities.
Voces de la Frontera then mobilized to manipulate public opinion into thinking that Palermo’s used the audit as the reason why they had to fire the undocumented workers engaged in union organizing.
The NLRB disagreed. The recent decision by the NLRB points out that there is no evidence of any attempt by Palermo’s to use the audit as the reason for firing the undocumented workers. The NLRB sided with Palermo’s for the most part, but found that Palermo’s did violate the rights of six documented workers who were fired for striking with the undocumented workers. Those workers will most likely get their jobs back.
Even after losing decision Voces de la Frontera continues half-truth political spin campaign.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) dismissed most of the unfair labor practice charges against Palermo’s today.
However, Palermo’s will have to rehire five to six of the workers back because the NLRB found that those workers did have labor rights issues that were of merit.
Noticed I said five to six of the almost 90 workers terminated for not having proper documentation. The five or six workers were documented, but walked off the site to strike in support of the undocumented workers.
The Voces de la Frontera controlled workers union Released a statement saying that “… a significant number of workers will get their jobs back and be awarded back pay…”.
Five to six workers is not a significant number of workers getting their jobs back folks.
The press release issued by this group once again demonstrates the half-truth spin they have been practicing since June.
By saying that a “significant number of workers” will be getting their job back, gives the public the impression that at least most of the workers will be back at work—WRONG!!!
The politricks being played here is simply designed to spin a bit of manufactured positive news out of a decision that blows this phony campaign out of the water.
Significant? Here’s something significant!!! What’s going to happen to the 80-plus undocumented workers still out of work? That’s what is significant.
The NLRB’s decision also dismisses a statement issued by Representative Zamarripa, who supported the undocumented striking workers. Clearly, she did not do her homework before making the decision to support a group attempting to shut down an immigrant-founded, Southside-born national-brand company in her district.
In the statement released by Rep. Zamarripa in September, the legislator states: “…The bottom line is that Palermo’s does not know which of its workers may be documented and which may not be, because on June 7th Palermo’s was ordered via a letter from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to suspend their immigration audit, due to the existing labor conflict per the National Labor Relations Board.
“Despite every effort on the part of the company to create a narrative to the contrary, that is the reason that the strike continues after 3 months.
“Instead of following the direction of the federal government and suspending their audit so as to not interfere with a union election, Palermo’s accelerated the verification deadline and terminated the workers one day after receiving the notice from ICE to suspend the audit. In other words, the ICE audit was never completed, and Palermo’s has no basis under federal law to refuse to bargain with the union and re-instate the striking workers”, said Zamarripa.
We now know the NLRB did not see it this way. Zamarripa’s fact was debunked.
Rep. Zamarripa’s statement is simplistic and indicative of doing more harm than good. Her statement was also a way for Voces de la Frontera to use politics and deception, the foundation of corruption and politricks, to continue their unjust actions against the Palermo family.
Representative Zamarripa’s statement did nothing but support an unjust campaign against a company that was born in our community and stayed our community because they believe in our community.
Representative Zamarripa did not do her homework and rather than play an active role in finding a resolution to the matter, she decided to engage as a partisan organizer for Voces de la Frontera.