The murders of a man and his beauty queen wife in Venezuela were the result of soap operas which ‘glamorise’ violence, the country’s president has said.

President Nicolas Maduro claimed the deaths of Thomas Berry and Monica Spear Mootz could have been inspired by ‘telenovelas’ which feature themes of drugs, violence and crime.

Critics have slammed the president’s remarks, suggesting he is trying to distract from the real cause of crime in Venezuela which has the fifth highest murder rate in the world.

President Maduro highlighted one programme in particular which features a psychopathic former beauty queen who poisons her mother.

His comments come after pressure on authorities to crackdown on violent crime was heightened following the couple’s deaths.

Thomas Berry and Monica Spear Mootz were killed in cold blood after being robbed when their car broke down on the Puerto-Cabello to Valencia highway on Monday

Their five-year-old daughter who was also in the car, was shot in the leg.

Police have made five arrests in connection with the case, including those of two minors.

Anti-violence groups have estimated that the homicide rate is as high at 79 deaths per 100,000 people, but the government – which hides official crime statistics – claims it’s 39 per 100,000, reports

The president has previously cited video games and superheroes as causes for crime in the South American country.

Thomas Berry and Monica Spear Mootz were attacked by armed men who approached their car as they waited for a repair truck.

The terrified couple locked themselves in their Toyota Corolla. But the robbers opened fire through the windows.

The bodies of Mr Berry and Ms Spear, who had American citizenship, were found in the car with their daughter, who had been shot in the leg.

Their five-year-old, believed to be called Maya, was taken to hospital where family and friends are helping to care for her.

According to Telemundo, the car was already on the back of a tow truck at the time of the attack. Two tow truck drivers who had arrived to help the couple are said to be under ‘intense interrogation’ by police.

Read original story on the Daily Mail

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Alasdair Baverstock MA is an award-winning multimedia foreign correspondent based in Mexico City, with more than five years of experience covering Latin America. Originally from London, and with full NCTJ certification, he specialises in news and feature journalism for print, radio and television. His work has previously been used as set-texts in British A-Level examinations. He currently works as CGTN America's Mexico correspondent, and has formerly published work in TIME Magazine, Daily Mail, The Atlantic, Penthouse, Fox News, BBC, Daily Telegraph, TRT World, and others.


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