José Carmelo Bislick Acosta

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On August 17, 2020, four armed men kidnapped radio show host José Carmelo Bislick Acosta; his bullet-riddled body was found the next day in a vacant lot near his home in the eastern Venezuelan city of Güiria, according to news reports and the Caracas-based free press organization Espacio Público.

Bislick, 51, was a local political leader, a member of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, and a former Güiria city council member, according to Mónica Salazar, general secretary of the National Journalists Association in Sucre state, which includes Güiria. He also worked as a high school gym teacher and hosted a Saturday radio politics and local affairs program on Güiria station Omega 94.1 FM, according to the same source.

Speaking to CPJ from the Sucre state capital of Cumaná by messaging app, Salazar said Bislick often used his radio program, called “El Pueblo en Combate” (“The People in Combat”), to speak out against corruption, drug trafficking, extortion, and the sales of contraband gasoline, which is in short supply amid Venezuela’s deep economic crisis.

“He would denounce corruption and wrongdoing on his radio program and we believe that is why he was killed,” Salazar told CPJ. She added that Bislick sometimes criticized Venezuela’s socialist revolution, now headed by President Nicolás Maduro, even though he was a member of the ruling party.

A local journalist who spoke with CPJ via messaging app and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons said that Bislick was killed because of conflicts with other political leaders in the locality.

Speaking to the Argentine news agency Infobae, the victim’s sister Rosmery Bislick said the family believes he was killed because of his criticism of the actions of other local members of the socialist movement. “We suspect that it was because of his constant criticism of the gasoline trafficking, his critical position from within the Revolution,” she said.

News reports said that Venezuela’s judicial and forensic police unit, known as the CICPC, is investigating the killing. CPJ’s calls to the CICPC headquarters in Caracas were not answered.