Sanity from the Prosecutor General

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Venezuela's Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega
Venezuela’s Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega

In a rare bout of justice, Venezuela’s Prosecutor General has charged five government intelligence agents with the murder of two people on February 12th. The two people in question are student Bassil Da Costa and chavista activist Juan Montoya.

Initially, government blogs had said the opposition had killed Montoya. Government paramilitary gangs known as “colectivos” claimed Montoya had died in the hands of Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles. The members of the gang Montoya belonged to vowed to avenge his death at the hands of “fascists.” As for Da Costa, chavista newspaper Últimas Noticias published an analysis claiming to show government forces as being the culprits. It’s nice to know that even the government’s prosecutor now admits it was their own people who killed Montoya and Da Costa.

The question that begs asking, though, is what Leopoldo López is doing in prison.

López, as you may recall, led the march that ended in violence, but left before the violence erupted. Initially, López was going to be charged with murder and terrorism. Those charges have been dropped. Now, he is being charged with “starting a fire” and “causing damages,” as well as “instigation to commit crimes.”

All of these are incredibly vague charges, and the government’s case is remarkably flimsy. This only underscores the fact that López is a prisoner of conscience, perhaps the most famous and visible one in the continent. The government should set him free in order to pave the way for true dialogue in the country.

1 COMMENT

  1. Methinks the issue here is that Maduro had ordered SEBIN to stay away from these protests, and there they were. SEBIN’s director already paid with his job, now these two stiffs are paying with criminal charges. But let’s not get confused, they’re paying for insubordination, not murder.

    • I would suggest they are being prosecuted for being caught on camera, not for insubordination. We only have Maduro’s (self-interested) claim to back the suggestion they were disobeying orders. If indeed they were, it seems highly unlikely it was their individual initiative, especially given that they were acting in concert with people in interior minister Rodriguez Torres’ inner circle. So if they weren’t obeying Maduro’s orders, whose were they obeying? Not those of their immediate boss, Gen Bernal, it seems, since although he was shifted to another job, Maduro publicly absolved him of blame. The command structure in the Sebin is somewhat blurry.

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    • Me thinks this is just a bid to buy time. Very astute on their behalf, I might add if the goal is to win back some favourability points abroad. If we are agreed that the Venezuelan judiciary is corrupt, can we ever expect to receive a just verdict under the current regime? Me thinks not

    • It is also the possible that the more extreme fractions on the government side are getting restless and Maduro et al saw the need to show them who is boss. I doubt these proceedings will get anywhere.

  2. “Now, he is being charged with “starting a fire” and “causing damages,” as well as “instigation to commit crimes.””

    If those are indeed the charges, and Leopoldo Lopez is still sitting in a jail cell today, aren’t any of the navel gazing governments of South America EMBARRASSED by this? Is this for real? Not a single condemnation from any government?

      • Yes, an 80-year old “fanfarron”, the only surviving member of the “Junta Patriotica” that post-Perez Jimenez conducted Venezuela to democratic elections, who, risking “casa por carcel” because of his age, and living in Venezuela, has the courage under a despotic regime to call for military/other civil disobedience to cast off the yoke of illegitimate Government repression/destruction under Cuban tutelage, ongoing electoral fraud, and massive human rights abuses. Would that certain commenters on this Blog and Oppo political leaders have the same degree of clarity and intestinal fortitude!

    • Well, one thing he did said I haven’t heard form anyone yet: Nolite Timere.

      After 15 years of this don’t expect much dialogue. There may be a few concessions from the government to pacify part of the population, but more laws, more repression, more aggression will be visible in the next few months.

      I’m now more than ever convinced that there is nothing we can do to open the eyes of the poor class and the parasites that suck from the regime for their own survival. Public demonstrations are the only way out of this. But not one here and there. They have to be daily, weekly, for several months, everywhere. They have to be pacific, but steady and to the point.

      Let’s not be afraid.

    • My impression is that the position he discribes is starting to resonate more and more among Venezuelans. Additionally, as time progresses the MUDs message seems to be shouted down as more citizens join the guarimba.

  3. We’ll see if the government actually ends up punishing these accused, or will they be released to some military base where they get new i.d. cards and new jobs?

  4. The filmed evidence pointing to these goons as the authors of both murders was too strong to be covered up , what now they try to say is that these murderers acted on their own initiative , disobeying orders from the top bosses so that the latter cannot be blamed for what happened . Moreover they will point out to the world that justice does exist in Venezuela since these murderers are being prosecuted. (even if later they are given purely fictional sentences) .

    As regards LL they will allege that because there were disturbances after the march was dissolved, which involved an attack on the Prosecutor Generals Building ( probably by members of some colectivo gangs) these are blameable on LL for calling on people to march .

    Its all a calculated exercise in damage control , which they are forced to take after the Ultimas Noticias report revealed to the world who was doing the shooting.!!

  5. Don’t expect anything worthwhile consistently from the “Prosecutor(?) General. She simply follows Party orders. There’s a wonderful decades-old photo of her beret-headed in a street protest following a Che lookalike leader. And there were many in the Oppo when she was named expecting her to act impartially!!?

  6. If Lopez is released (as I think they’ll do now) that leaves the opposition without an emblematic front man in jail. It won’t make the human rights narrative quite so juicy.

    • He hasn’t made much of his jail time. His wife is busy sniping at Capriles (I can understand she’s emotional about the situation, but isn’t it possible to take a long view?), and she’s half-given credence to the death threats he’s supposed to have received. All I can remember from Leopoldo Lopez himself over the past few days is a letter to the pope he’d written before turning himself in.

      Really, it’s a hopelessly amateur performance. He had several days’ warning of his arrest, so why didn’t he use the time to write to every contact he has with international standing? There’s so much more that he could have done, instead of having the rally and then leaving everyone standing around clueless. And if he really wanted he could keep himself in the news, even from jail.

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