Waldo Santaeliz, a sitting lawmaker and candidate for the controversial parliamentary election was shot and killed during a campaign event in Trujillo state.
It is the first time in Venezuelan history that a serving deputy gets killed during a political act. The candidate was in his home, preparing a political act where he pretended to deliver bags of food as part of his campaign.
Waldo Santeliz, 61, was a member of the questioned side of the opposition party, Primero Justicia, a faction that agreed to partake in a vote boycotted by the majority of the opposition, the United States, and the European Union. The US Treasury has denounced the efforts of Maduro to corrupt and buy out opposition politicians in what it called Operacion Alacran, in which three Venezuelans sanctioned as a result.
Fellow alacran Luis Parra, the lawmaker accused by the US of accepting one million Euros for switching allegiances from Juan Guaido to Nicolas Maduro, denounced Santeliz murder, saying pranes, which means Venezuelan jailhouse bosses, killed him.
Jose Brito, also an alacran lawmaker, publicly accused Chavista politician Michel Duque as responsible for the Santeliz hit. Duque was a pro-Maduro mayor of the Santa Isabel municipality where Santeliz got killed.
“Workers, mercenaries, and hitmen working for Duque killed the sexagenarian lawmaker,” Brito said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
The accused Duque tweeted after the murder: “We, revolutionaries, are defenders of life, justice and love, and whatever the motive for murder, taking the life of a human being, is an act that will always be condemned. My most sincere condolences to all his family, fellows of the party from the bottom of my heart.”
“They shot him (Santeliz) at least eight times,” Parra, who is the head of a parallel National Assembly and which does not recognize Guaido, stated in a press release, adding that the pranes used long, large-caliber weapons.
Guaido is promoting a separate vote on December 12 to unseat Maduro and authorize a foreign intervention.
Award-winning news site El Pitazo reported that assailants of Santeliz escaped in an SUV.