In the run-up to September 1st, the government is substantially cranking up its repressive activity, rolling out “preventive repression” that at times amounts to the selective kidnapping of Voluntad Popular members.
The men who arrested Yon are believed to be agents of the SEBIN secret police, but calling what they did an “arrest” makes no sense: there wasn’t even a semblance of due process involved.
Today we witnessed how, while driving in a highway in Caracas, after leaving his home, Yon Goicochea was stopped by two vehicles. Several heavily armed men poured out of them and kidnapped him. The men are believed to be agents of the SEBIN secret police, but calling what they did an “arrest” makes no sense: there wasn’t even a semblance of due process involved.
Sources tell us that Yon is spending the night in a cell in the Helicoide, SEBIN’s infamous Western Caracas headquarters, though he is being held incomunicado with no contact with his attorneys or anyone in the outside world. Diosdado Cabello, only a couple of hours after the kidnapping, addressed a political rally in Barinas to say that explosives had been found in Goicoechea’s vehicle and that he received training from the United States.
Nobody who knows Yon would believe this for a split second, the allegations make no sense. Yon, a key leader in the 2007 student movement that handed chavismo its first electoral defeat, had just returned to Venezuela after a long period abroad with his wife and two children.
Yon won the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty in 2008. He was awarded for his role in the student movement, and particularly for his efforts in non-violent advocacy for freedom. With it, a cash prize came that was used to fund the youth-oriented NGO Futuro Presente. This organization has been educating young men and women in leadership and teamwork for nearly a decade.
And of course VP’s founder, Leopoldo López remains in a military jail after losing his appeal against a conviction even his original prosecutor admits was trumped up. He now faces more than a decade in jail.
This fits into a troubling track record of heavy-handed repression against Voluntad Popular. Two months ago, Francisco Márquez and Gabriel San Miguel were detained for supporting the recall referendum. They remain behind bars and have just been transferred to one of the worst jails in the country. The 45-day period for the prosecution to present charges against them elapsed on Aug. 5th, and no charges were filed. Legally they should have been freed three weeks ago, yet they remain in jail.
Yon’s kidnapping is the latest escalation in the regime’s Cuban-style preventative repression: something that simply has no precedent in Venezuela’s history.
Daniel Ceballos, was carted out of the apartment where he was under house arrest at 3 in the morning and taken to a prison, for reasons only the government knows. An arrest warrant was issued for Warner Jimenez, the mayor of Maturin. VP’s presumptive candidate for governor of Zulia, Lester Toledo, had his home broken into without a judicial order at 10 pm. Luckily he wasn’t home. Delson Guarante, mayor of the suburban Maracay municipality of El Limón, had his mother’s house broken into by the security forces, also without a warrant. Same story, swat team, heavily armed, looking for folks that have done nothing more than oppose chavismo.
Chavismo has specifically targeted VP in the weeks and days leading up to Thursday’s protests in a bid to intimidate and cow us into submission.
Yon’s kidnapping is the latest escalation in the regime’s Cuban-style preventative repression: something that simply has no precedent in Venezuela’s history. We are descending to new depths and the bottom is not yet in sight.