The murder of a Venezuelan lawmaker and his wife Wednesday was “intentional, planned, and executed with great precision,” Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez said.
During a Thursday news conference, Rodríguez said that Robert Serra, a 27-year-old Caracas congressman and his wife, María Herrerra, were stabbed to death in their home in the nation’s capital.
Serra was an important leader in the ruling PSUV youth movement and a high-profile supporter of late President Hugo Chávez, Rodríguez said. “Without a doubt his death was a macabre order,” he added.
Rodríguez did not provide a motive for the crime but said a team of specialists was working around the clock to find its “material” and “intellectual” authors.
Venezuela has the highest per capita murder rate in the world after Honduras, but Rodríguez dismissed the idea that the assassination was part of a botched robbery attempt or “common crime.”
Rodriguez also asked the opposition not to turn Serra’s death into a “media circus.”
The coalition of opposition parties known as the MUD said they were canceling a march planned for Saturday in deference to pro-government supporters.
“The nation is in mourning and the position of all us should be one of solidarity and respect for the families of the victims,” said MUD Executive Secretary Jesús Torrealba. “To the Chavistas we say: We respect your pain.”
Later, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said the country “didn’t need the condolences” of the country’s opposition.
“Robert will have the condolences of the people who truly loved him and cared for him,” he said during a memorial service in congress. “Don’t be hypocrites.”
Serra’s murder comes as the administration has been under pressure to clamp down on rampant crime. This week, the government began a voluntary disarmament plan to take guns off the streets, but opposition critics say it’s too little and too late.
Nationwide marches that started in February and have simmered ever since were launched, in part, due to deteriorating security.
Serra’s death comes as the nation was remembering another high-profile killing — that of Monica Spear, a former Miss Venezuela and television star, who was murdered in January along with her partner. Spear would have been 30 on Wednesday.
Serra was a vocal supporter of the administration and cut his teeth as a member of pro-government youth groups. When he won a congressional seat in 2010, he became the youngest serving congressman.
“What pain, what frustration,” President Nicolás Maduro wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “The criminal hand cannot kill dreams or silence the brave voice of Robert Serra.”