Mónica Spear, a telenovela actor and former beauty queen, dies with ex-husband in robbery that also injures five-year-old child

Assailants shot dead a former Miss Venezuela and her ex-husband in the latest high-profile case of violent crime in the South American nation, authorities said on Tuesday.

Mónica Spear, 29, who was also a an actor in telenovela soap operas, and Henry Berry, 39, who was reported by local media to be Irish, died in an attempted robbery on the road between Puerto Cabello and Valencia in central Venezuela.

The 2004 Miss Venezuela winner lived in the United States but was on holiday in Venezuela. The couple’s five-year-old daughter survived the attack late on Monday, but suffered a bullet wound to her leg, the government and local media said.

Reports indicated Spear’s car may have broken down before armed robbers approached – a common occurrence on roads after dark in one of the world’s most violent nations.

Show-business colleagues were devastated.

“I’m so sad for my Venezuela, my condolences for Monica Spear’s family. Rage and impotence are what I feel right now,” wrote Oscar D’Léon, a Venezuelan salsa singer, on Twitter.

Venezuela’s official murder rate late year was 39 per 100,000 inhabitants, but local non-government organisation put the figure at nearly twice that for a total of 24,000 deaths.

President Nicolas Maduro has made violent crime his top priority, with polls consistently showing it to be Venezuelans’ main concern.

But opponents say the government’s anti-crime plans are not tackling the root causes, such as criminals escaping punishment, corrupt courts and police complicity in some crime.

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