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Sunday, 29 November, 2020

Lisbeth Arteaga: from PSUV councilwoman to murderer

The council member for Independencia municipality, Miranda state, is facing a criminal trial for the alleged crime of murder for hire in the case of her former couple, Wilmer Antonio Castro Gonzalez.

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The name of Lisbeth Carolina Arteaga Fernandez, council member of the municipality of Independencia de Los Valles del Tuy, was not that popular in the media until she involved in the murder investigation of Wilmer Antonio Castro Gonzalez, 30, her ex-boyfriend.

Castro’s murder occurred in the Cartanal parish in Miranda state, on May, 26. Only two days later, Arteaga – then the president of the mayor’s agency in charge of the Clap subsidized food program- was in custody.

The Clap box, of subsidized foodstuffs, is a social control tool created in 2016 and which, analysts say, has been extremely influential in demobilizing anti-Maduro protests in poor communities of Venezuela.

Who is Lisbeth Arteaga?

Lisbeth Arteaga’s beginnings were in the Youth of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (JPSUV in Spanish). Step by step, she gained the trust of the leaders, while she was studying law at the Sucre Mission, another social control initiative, that offering promising students a scholarship at a university run by the Maduro regime.

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Arteaga worked in the political campaign of Carlos Rodriguez, who was, eventually, elected mayor of the municipality of Independencia for the period 2013-2017. During this administration, she was the Civil Registrar but she gets fired by Rodriguez for alleged corruption together with another four local officials.

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Despite these accusations, she became secretary of the then deputy of the Legislative Council of the state of Miranda, Ismael Capinel, for at least a year and a half.

Under Arteaga’s watch, 18 computers, a property of state oil firm PDVSA, and being used during a municipal election, lost. But Capinel kept her by his side, and Arteaga rose in the ranks of the PSUV ruling party, founded by former socialist, Hugo Chavez.

In December 2018, she won the elections to the municipal council of Independencia. Mayor, and long-time ally Capinel, appointed her as secretary of the productive economy, and president of CorpoIndependencia, the instance that hands out the coveted Clap benefit.

Arteaga married to a fellow worker at the Santa Teresa Mayor’s Office, but she separated a year and a half ago, to establish a romantic relationship with the now-deceased, Wilmer Antonio Castro González, who was her driver and helped her with the distribution of the CLAP boxes. Seven months ago, Arteaga and Castro had a child.

Sicario style

A source linked to the investigation of Wilmer Antonio Castro Gonzalez’s murder said some witnesses saw Castro get shot by a local police officer, Ronny Enrique Mejias Ferrer, from a motorcycle on May 26.

Mejias was in uniform when he killed Castro. The alleged hitman was capture, and his cell phone searched by authorities. In the device, messages, supposedly linking Arteaga to the crime, were found.

Two other people are being held for this case: a policeman who lent the motorbike from which Castro was shot, and a social leader close to Arteaga. Both are being prosecuted as immediate cooperators, however, according to the source, they did not know that Castro would be murdered.

The source added that in an analysis of Arteaga’s cell phone found calls, and messages compromising messages that allegedly questioned the handling of CLAP boxes in the municipality. People in the zone often complain about those boxes not arriving, or arriving with fewer foodstuffs.

Arteaga was profiling as the next candidate for mayor in Santa Teresa del Tuy for Maduro’s ruling party. However, she will face a different kind of contest, a criminal trial for murder.

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