Archive for February 15th, 2012

1907: Gen. Antonio Paredes, Venezuelan rebel

Add comment February 15th, 2012 Headsman

In the small hours this date* in 1907, Venezuelan Gen. Antonio Paredes was summarily shot for an abortive rising against dictator Cipriano Castro.

The Andean military governor Castro had overthrown the previous kleptocracy in the Restoration Revolution of 1899.

Castro’s state was racked by internal conflicts as Castro’s body was by collapsing organ systems. Both factors helped encourage malcontents towards designs upon his job.

Paredes was one of the regime’s chief opponents, an admired officer who had been the last holdout (Spanish link) against the 1899 revolt from his own base in the port city of Puerto Cabello, latterly knocking about in exile openly scheming against Castro. Paredes steamed in to New York in the summer of 1906 “to obtain arms and ammunition … for this movement against Castro,” he told the New York Tribune in a story wired from coast to coast. “I came here solely on that mission.”**

Paredes finally landed in his homeland in early February 1907, just as Castro was undergoing an emergency surgery. The Chicago Tribune Feb. 9, 1907 dispatch ran under a headline announcing “Paredes’ Long Planned Insurrection Begun”.

But long planned evidently wasn’t well planned.

Making landfall with a token force of retainers, he banked on “rally[ing] an army of 5,000 to 8,000 men.” (Chicago Tribune, op. cit.) But he in fact rallied zero, and was almost instantly intercepted by Castro’s troops. After a couple of days in captivity, the men in the field received a curt telegram over Cipriano Castro’s name — either dictated from the president’s hospital bed between chloroform stupors, or simply given in his stead by powerful Interior Minister Julio Torres Cardenas — ordering the summary execution (Spanish link) of the prisoners.

The whole lot of 17 or 18 prisoners (including two US expatriates, John Godskin and Thomas Lovelace), were accordingly dispatched (Spanish again) without color of law.

Venezuela had actually abolished capital punishment for all crimes in 1863. While extrajudicial executions are always in a gray area, this might be the last event in that country’s history that could clearly be classified as an execution.

* This memoirs of Paredes’ 1899-1903 imprisonment at one point states that the execution occurred in the small hours of Feb. 16, but I believe this is mistaken.

** Quotes from an A.P. story titled “Planning Revolution Against Gen. Castro” in the Los Angeles Times, Aug. 11, 1906.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Milestones,No Formal Charge,Politicians,Power,Revolutionaries,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Venezuela


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