by John Sexton 24 Feb 2014, 12:24 PM PDT
The young man who carried injured beauty queen Genesis Carmona to the hospital on the back of a motorcycle disputes the government's claim that she was shot by a fellow protester. He says the shots came from a group of armed men on motorcycles who were clearly government supporters known as Chavistas.
On February 18th, 22-year-old beauty queen Genesis Carmona was shot in the head while taking part in a protest in Valencia. She died the next day after an operation failed to save her life.
A photo of Genesis being evacuated from the protest on the back of a motorcycle was widely distributed by the media and social networks. The day after Carmona died Miguel Rodríguez Torres, the Venezuelan interior minister and an ally of President Maduro, announced "This girl died from a bullet that came from her own ranks." No evidence to support this claim was offered.
Over the weekend, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos interviewed Gabriel Cegarra the young man pictured carrying Carmona. Cegarra disputes the government's story. He says it was clear the shots (which also hit 7 other people that day) came from a group of Chavistas on motorcycles.
Below is a complete translation of the interview by Breitbart's Frances Martel. [Thanks also to my friend Rocio who transcribed the interview separately over the weekend. In a few places I used her rendering of a word or phrase.]
Ramos: The images of the students that have lost their lives in the protests in Venezuela are impressive because, in the majority of cases, they have been shot at and they have no way of defending themselves. To these images we add this impressive photo: beauty queen Genesis Carmona being carried away as she was dying. The student is named Gabriel Cegarra, who had her in his arms to try to save her life. He joins us now via satellite from Valencia, Carabobo state.
Gabriel, thank you for speaking with us. What happened that day? Where were you?
Gabriel Cegarra: We were in Cedeño Ave, Valencia. We were protesting there-- the protest concentration was there. There was a large group of us there protesting normally, peacefully. All of a sudden we began to see motorcycles on the north side of Cedeño Ave. That is a steep street, and at the top of the street we saw motorcycles with, um, they were armed and over there. At first they were not doing anything, they were just there concentrated, and we were concentrated in our part and we took note of each other. Then, all of the sudden, there were gunshots, there were three rounds of gunshots. In the third, unfortunately, a bullet hit her in the head.
Ramos: The government said, without proof, that the shots came from the opposition group itself. Do you think the shots came from an armed Chavista group?
GC: Yes, because they were the only ones who were armed. We do our protesting with a simple tricolor hat, a white shirt-- which was what we organized for that day---
Ramos: So the official version from the government is not true from your point of view? The bullets came from Chavista groups, not the opposition? This is very important.
GC: Not from the opposition, because among ourselves, I don't think we are there to kill each other. We were just there peacefully protesting. The motorcycles that were shooting, you could see they were armed and they had red shirts, some were black striped, but there were people with red shirts.
Ramos: You already knew Genesis. At what time did you see her get shot through the head?
GC: Yes, I knew Genesis, she is my-- was my "buddy" for all life. She was my friend for five years. I realized that she was shot in the head when... I heard the gunshots from where I was, I ducked, and then when I see that she is leaning on a friend's arms. The friend brought her to me-- it was a short route, about 5 meters, something like that-- and I see that when I touch her with her left arm, which I put behind my neck, I started to feel something cold on my arm, and a doctor who was there at the protests also told me, "get on your bike and get help, she's been shot in the head."
Ramos: That is precisely what you did. That image and that photograph traveled the world. When you were carrying her with you on the motorcycle, she was still alive, right?
GC: Yes, she was conscious.
Ramos: She was conscious. Could she talk? Did she say something?
GC: No, she didn't speak to me but her eyes were open. With her right hand she was pulling my shirt, as you can see in the image, and with the left hand she was pulling the shirt of the motorcycle driver.
Ramos: What did you tell her?
GC: Stay still, everything will be fine, I would do everything possible I could to arrive quickly so they could treat her, not to worry, that nothing was going to happen.
Ramos: Then you arrived at the hospital. When did you find out she had died?
GC: I found out yesterday, Wednesday, around 12:50-- I was making some declarations and was not at the clinic at the moment, but I got a message simply saying she had died. It was really very sad, that moment; reading that message was nothing good. I didn't expect that to happen.
Ramos: The burial of Genesis was on Friday. Do you think President Nicolás Maduro is responsible for this death?
GC: Honestly, I don't think he is responsible for this death. It was simply those armed groups that were there. I don't blame any-- they were simply shots that were heard, they were the ones shooting, that's why I say the shots were from the motorcycles up there, because they were the ones shooting from the beginning.
Ramos: I'll leave it at this, Gabriel. When we were establishing the relationship for this interview, we got the impression that you were afraid to speak. Are you afraid to speak? Why?
GC: Yes, of course.
GC: Because... because, I don't know, something that could happen to you. You don't know what they could do to expose you.
Ramos: Have they threatened you?
GC: No, I haven't been threatened at any moment but security here is not very good.
Ramos: Thank you for the courage to speak with us.
GC: Thanks to you, honestly. This has to be known. I want it to be known, what happened to my friend. It was nothing good, what happened to her. It didn't have to be that way. I have to pass it calmly, as it should be, but we are lamentably living what happened.