Aid from a Padre
4 June 1962. Navy chaplain Luis Padillo was walking around giving last rites to dying soldiers as sniper fire surrounded him. A wounded soldier pulled himself up by linging to the priest’s cassock, as bullets chewed up the concrete around them. Hector Rondón Lovera, who had to lie flat to avoid getting shot, later said that he was unsure how he managed to take this picture. [See all pictures he took that day]. Norman Rockwell eeriely used this photograph as a template for his Southern Justice painting, “Murder in Mississippi“.
It was taken in Puerto Cabello Naval Base, Venezuela, the city of 80,000 beside the nation’s largest naval base 75 miles west of the capital Caracas . Venezuela’s constitution was only a year old in 1962, but already there have been two attempts to overthrow the government. A third came in June 1962, when Puerto Cabello became the scene of one of the bitterest fighting in modern Venezuelan history, now known as the Porteñazo.. The bloody struggle between government forces and guerrilla rebels in the naval base who had the support of the residents of Puerto Cabello. Hector Rondon, who was in Caracas, travelled sixy miles to arrive just in time to see government tanks rolling into the town. Official casualty figures for the military were 47 dead, 89 wounded. But unofficial estimates put the toll, including civilians, at more than 300.