Soldier escapes, confirms previous story on burnt soldiers

May 7, 2004


The man in the picture is named Jesus Barroso. He is (or was) a soldier at Fort Mara until he escaped today and began making statements to the media. He said the soldiers were killed and it was done on purpose. He had guard duty that night, when he heard the screams, went to the jail and saw three soldiers jumping in the tall grass. It took ten minutes to get the keys, while the soldiers burnt inside the cell. Once they were out, it took twenty minutes for the ambulance to arrive.


 


According to Barroso’s statements tonight, the first soldier who died was saying “they burnt us, they burnt us, they did it on purpose, and they threw matches at us” he said almost crying.


 


He also related how before the fire, a soldier with a pail of water for the soldiers arrived but Barroso said “that was not water, that was gasoline, when they took the soldiers to the hospital, I went in the cell with a fire extinguisher and it smelled of pure gasoline”


 


He insisted on the thesis of the signatures of the burnt soldiers requesting Chávez’ recall. Bustamente told him he had signed and “that is why he was put in the pot”


 


He ended by saying that there are Cubans at Fort Mara who have positions which claim (his words) that they are doctors.


 


The more the Government lies, the more complicated it will be to get out of this tragic farce. Yesterday, Chavez was saying the video testimony of a dead soldier was fake, tonight a soldier who is very much alive is ratifying the dead soldier’s story.


 


Curiously, the stories coming from the soliers, their family, human rights groups and yes, from the opposition, have been fairly consistent, while the Government kees changing it, twisting it and contradicting each other. Let us not forget that Chavez’ initial version was that the burns were slight and this was all much ado about nothing!


 


What will Chavez say now? As usual, he will lie, deny and improvise, maybe asking once again for forgiveness in the middle, before resuming once more his cynical attitude about this whole tragic affair.

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