Dec 29, 2019 News
A tiring two weeks of hard work had paid off greatly for two young men who were working with a Brazilian dredge owner at the “Black Water” Backdam, Region Seven, Cuyuni Mazaruni.
Wendell Williams and Romario Hernandez received their wages in gold and planned a trip to neighbouring Venezuela.
The adventurous friends decided that they will visit a small town called Tumeremo.
They made the four-hour long trip up the Cuyuni River to the Eteringbang Landing where they spent the night at a friend’s house.
The next day the men awoke very early and boarded a boat to San Martin where they would obtain a pass to enter Venezuela.
Very anxious about their sightseeing adventure they entered a vehicle to embark upon their three-hour journey to Tumeremo.
They arrived at their destination around 9:00 hrs and spent the entire day experiencing the Venezuelan culture.
The fun filled day ended quickly and they were soon heading back to San Martin in a Ford Bronco (Vehicle).
But little did they know that they would come face to face with one of the most ruthless Criminal Gangs that patrol the Venezuelan border.
About one and a half hour later, a bright light flashed in front of their vehicle. The light was so bright that it blinded the chauffeur forcing him to stop.
The light then went dim and what the men saw sent shivers up their spines.
A group of heavily armed men with masked faces speaking Spanish approached the vehicle and ordered everyone out.
“We did not understand much Spanish but we tried our best not to panic. They bound our hands with ropes and forcefully loaded us into a large truck. Our heads were covered with canvas bags and the truck took off.
“It was horrifying we had no idea what these men would do to us or where they were taking us.”.
The men said the truck soon stopped and they were hauled out and forced to lie face down on the dusty road.
“The canvas bags were removed and we were gun-butted about the body and searched thoroughly”.
When the search was over, the passengers and two friends were taken to a hut where they were interrogated.
The masked men began to interrogate each person one by one. Some were beaten and taken away.
“It was finally our turn; my feet buckled. I started to tremble, I whispered to Wendell this is it buddy. This is it, and I started to cry. I was certain that we were going to die that night.”
The men began to question Wendell and Romario but the two Guyanese men invented a language that never existed forcing the criminals to burst out in laughter.
Surprisingly one of gang member spoke broken English and asked the friends if they were foreigners. Tearfully the men responded, “Yes, we are Guyanese tourists and we ain’t want dead buddae”.
With laughter the man responded, “Nah cry; we nah guh kill you. We lookin fuh a Venezuelan sapo”.
Wendell and Romario were then transported to another hut where they remained the entire night under guard.
Very early the next morning the men were reunited with their Chauffeur and the rest of the passengers.
Their documents were returned along with their belongings and they continued their journey to San Martin.
The friends arrived at San Martin around midday and boarded a boat directly to “Black Water” and vowed never to return to Venezuela again.
On my quest to find out more about these Venezuelan gangs, I was granted the opportunity to have a conversation with a Venezuelan woman who resides in San Martin.
She is a Kindergarten teacher of the community’s only church and was willing to share her near death experience with this so called “Sindicato Gang”
Yumilia de Williams said that her kindergarten students had practiced an entire year for a district competition in a place called Gran Sabana.
The day finally arrived and plans were in place. She and fellow teachers, a few parents and 50 children boarded two Toyota Land Cruisers.
They took off with smiles on their faces and chatted about the competition ahead and even celebrated as though they had already won.
About two hours later their faces became pale as they saw men with high powered rifles pulling over cars and pulling out the passengers.
They could not risk turning the car around in an attempt to escape because they would be pursued and shot at.
The woman said that she began to pray that the criminals would allow them to pass and rehearsed a speech to plead for their lives.
But they were not spared. They too were forced out of their Toyotas and forced to lie face down in the nearby bushes with guns placed at the back of their heads.
The children began to cry; some fainted. Even a few of the adults became numb with fear.
Being a leader and having the responsibility of taking care of these children Yumilia was eager to plead with the sindicatos to let the children go.
She found the courage to face these ruthless men despite the fact that they can rape, kill or butcher her.
She begged and begged but was ignored.
However, she said “God touched one of the gang members heart and he approached me.”
In a polite voice he asked, “Where are these children heading?”
She responded, “To a district competition. Please don’t kill us, please.”
The man then ordered his colleagues to release all the hostages including those who were detained before them.
“We arrived at Tumeremo later that evening but never continued the journey to Gran Sabana.
We were left in a state of shock. My daughter, who was among the fifty children, fell ill and had to be hospitalized. Until this day she would experience nightmares and trauma attacks.”
The notorious sindicatos have been responsible for a number of brutal Guyanese deaths at the many borders between Guyana and Venezuela.
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