Miss Venezuela: Lamentable Loss Impels Legal ChangeBy: Ashley Olds - January 8, 2014
“It was a vile killing.”
This was Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez’s description of the slaying of Monica Spear and her ex-husband Monday night. The 2004 Miss Venezuela winner and her ex-husband Thomas Henry Berry had been driving with their five year old daughter along a poorly maintained road when their car hit sharp objects which punctured the tires. Subsequently, they were ambushed by gunmen who had planted the obstacles in the roadway.
In a country with one of the highest murder rates, such assaults are not uncommon.
However, the celebrity nature of this case has spotlighted even more of a rise in Venezuelan violence. When friends and coworkers of the late Spear stormed the office of President Nicolas Maduro, he swore to wage the full weight of the law on her murderers.
“The fight against violence has to involve all the authorities so the criminals know they’ll face the full rigour of the law, because we’ve had enough already,” said Interior Minister Rodriguez at a news conference. He vowed to “use everything we have, the police, the army, against those who will not go down the path of peace.” before stating that he had called an emergency meeting of the governors of Venezuela’s 23 states and 79 towns with the highest violence levels.
Monica certainly was more than a beauty queen and telenovela star.
She was described as “very spiritual” by President Maduro, served her community, and assisted a charity that helped teens with mental disabilities gain employment.
On Monday, however, any of these accomplishments or titles were irrelevant. She was just a young woman on a family vacation. She was a person whose life was brutally wrenched from those who loved her. She was mother to a young daughter who traumatically witnessed the loss of her parents and is currently recovering in hospital from a gunshot wound.
Some will mock the coverage of this story, stating that a celebrity’s life and death deserves no place in the news.
Many will argue that the public-figure magnifying glass is trivial and undeserved.
In most cases, they aren’t wrong. Also, the loved ones left behind likely don’t appreciate the press.
Nothing can assuage the grief of Monica Spear’s and her ex-husband’s friends and family. However, the hope is that the highly publicized nature of this tragedy will serve as more than some viral trend on which the masses emotionally feast and forget next week. With any luck, the collective upset over this senseless loss will at the very least elicit continued action from Venezuelan authorities. That way, not only can Spear be avenged. Perhaps right action might prevent the potential victimization of countless others during this rise in Venezuelan violence.
My healing thoughts go out the daughter, friends, and families of Monica and Thomas.
Image via Instagram