End Police Intimidation of Venezuelan Family


Target: Elias Jaua Milano, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Goal: Launch a full investigation of the murders of various members of the Barrios family, and protect surviving family members from police intimidation and threats.

In the last fifteen years, ten members of the Barrios family have been murdered. The investigations have largely stalled, and what’s worse is that the surviving family members continue to face harassment and intimidation from police. Demand safety and justice for the Barrios family–sign the petition calling for a full investigation into both the initial murders and the subsequent death threats.

The most recent instance of intimidation against the Barrios family came when police officers forced their way into the home of Lilia Isabel Solórzano Barrios without a warrant. They informed her nephew, Víctor Cabrera Barrios, that they would kill him the next time they saw him. “The family believes that the threats are due to their continuous demands for justice, effective protection measures, and reparations, including at a hearing before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights last May,” Amnesty International reports. The family is supposed to be receiving government protection after being moved, but the threats and intimidation resumed soon after their relocation.

The ten murdered members of the Barrios family are believed to have been killed by police officers, but so far justice for the victims and their family has been elusive. Only one of the ten murders has produced a guilty verdict, and most of the others are stymied in the initial stages of investigation or prosecution. One of the cases has been shelved.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights decided in May that the Venezuelan government was obligated to “provide effective protection measures for the family, carry out thorough and impartial investigations, bring those responsible to justice and provide financial and other types of reparations to them (such as education and medical care).” Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Court’s jurisdiction earlier this year puts the strength of the ruling in jeopardy, even though Venezuela is still legally obligated to comply with decisions the Court made while Venezuela was still under its jurisdiction.

No family should ever have to face the horror of one murder, let alone ten, and no one should ever be intimidated and threatened by the officials meant to protect them. Sign the petition and demand full investigations into both the murders and the death threats endured by the Barrios family, and urge authorities to ensure that the safety of the surviving family members is respected and protected.


Dear Minister,

Murder is a tragic event that changes families and communities forever. The Barrios family knows this all too well–since 1998, ten members of the Barrios family have been murdered, allegedly by police officers. The surviving family members face intimidation and death threats. Venezuela must do more to protect a family that has already suffered so much. Please help achieve justice for the slain members of the Barrios family–and the relatives who continue to struggle with adversity and grief.

The latest instance of police intimidation against the Barrios family came when officers forced their way into the home of Lilia Isabel Solórzano Barrios without a warrant and threatened her nephew, Víctor Cabrera Barrios, saying that they would kill him the next time they saw him. The family believes the threats are a result of their continued pursuit of justice for the murderers that have torn their family apart.

Of the ten murder cases affecting the Barrios family, all but one remain unsolved. Most are in the initial stages of investigation or prosecution, and one has been archived. The justice system has had fifteen years in which to address these murders, and the fact that nine of the ten cases have stagnated suggests that simply not enough effort is being put into solving them.

Furthermore, Venezuela is obligated to investigate both the murders and the subsequent threats and intimidation, as per the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Although Venezuela is no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the Court, it is still bound to comply with all decisions and rulings made prior to its withdrawal. These rulings included orders that the Barrios family be given adequate government protection, and that the murders be fully and thoroughly investigated.

No family should have to endure murders and threats even once, let alone ten times over. Venezuela has a responsibility to protect its citizens and pursue justice for the slain–no matter who the murderers may be or what sort of power and positions they hold. I therefore demand that members of the Barrios family be afforded proper protection, in accordance with their wishes and the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and I demand that the murders and intimidation of various members of the Barrios family be fully, impartially, and promptly investigated.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jorge Paparoni via Wikimedia Commons

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