Venezuela: Protest the Murder of a Transwoman in Caracas

The rights violated in this case include: The right to life and security of person, the right to be free from discrimination, the right to equality before the law, and the right to judicial protection

The Issue

On May 7, 2009, Xiomara Duran, a 27-year old transwoman, was wounded by six gunshots fired by an unknown individual on Avenida Libertador in Caracas. Two friends took Xiomara to the Periferico de Catia hospital. On Sunday May 17, she was transferred to the Perez de Leon hospital, where she died the next day.

This is the fourth murder to affect the Caracas transgender community in the last six months. Two transpeople were shot to death on November 7, 2008 and March 23, 2009. Another transperson was stabbed to death in Caracas on May 4, 2009. All of these cases have been reported to the Prosecutor and the Ombudsperson, but there has been no response.

Take Action

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins Venezuela Diversa A.C. in requesting that you send letters in English with a Spanish translation to the following Venezuelan authorities, demanding a fair and exhaustive investigation into these murders and the adoption of measures to prevent similar crimes in the future.

Feel free to cut and paste from our sample letter and contact the individuals listed below.

Please send your letters to:

Hugo Chavez Frias
President of Venezuela
Despacho de la Presidencia
Luisa Ortega Diaz
General Attorney of the Republic of Venezuela
Gabriela Ramirez
Luisa Estela Morales
President of Supreme Court of Justice
Carlos Meza
General Director of the Metropolitan Police

Please send a copy to:

Fernando D'Elio / IGLHRC
Yonatan Matheus


Mr. Hugo Chavez Frias
President of Venezuela

Mr. President,

We write to express our deep concern over reports of the murders of transgender women in Caracas, Venezuela during the last six months. The murder of Xiomara Duran, who died on May 18, 2009 after being hit by six gunshots on May 7, 2009, is the fourth reported murder in the last six months to affect the transgender community in Caracas. All of these cases have been reported to the Prosecutor and the Ombudsman, but there has been no response.

As a signatory to international human rights declarations and treaties that protect the right to life, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to equality, it is Venezuela’s obligation to ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated and perpetrators are brought to justice. This is required in all cases, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victims.

Moreover, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity specify that, “Everyone has the right to life. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity” and that, “Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to security of the person and to protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government officials or by any individual or group.” The Yogyakarta Principles also stipulate that states should, “adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit and eliminate discrimination in the public and private spheres on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” (Principles 4 and 5).

We ask that you publicly condemn the murders of transgender women in Caracas, ensure that local authorities make a full investigation into these crimes, and find and convict the perpetrators. We also ask that you closely monitor the situation in the neighborhood, increase the police presence there, and do everything possible to ensure that similar crimes against the transgender community are not repeated in the future. The authorities in Caracas should respect and protect the human rights of all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We trust that you will give this issue the attention it deserves.