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.

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  1. “Nobody who knows Yon would believe this for a split second…”

    Nobody who knows this regime would believe this for a split second.

    The regime is panicking over Sept. 1. They think that maybe they can stop it through intimidation or at least damage the coordination by depriving the Opposition of its leadership. They are wrong. Things like this don’t just stop because a bunch of the leaders get taken out. They take on a life of their own.

    I am actually heartened by the regime’s over-reaction. It is a sign that their own political analysis says that they are vulnerable, and they should know better than we do. On the other hand, I worry for the eventual fate of the kidnapped. The regime has become irrational with fear, and desperate men can do stupid and evil things.

    • nah, it’s an old authoritarian tactic: You attack one group at the time, hoping that the other groups keep calm either because of fear or because they themselves don’t like the group you are attacking. (cf. the famous quote by pastor Niemoller “First they came for…” about the Nazis)

  2. Terror tactics. The disguised Bolivarian Dictatorship (they prefer dollars, but bolivars will do) is desperate.

    The crack-down is probably gonna get worse after September. They want to stay in power as long as possible, to steal as much as possible. Plus they are afraid of going to jail, and losing their stolen properties wordlwide. Add to that the Millions of corrupt “officials” or government employees, or police, guardia, and the filthy Chavistoide military. They all want a piece of the pie, for as long as possible. Where are thugs like Maduro or Cabello or Rodriguez gonna go after the regime falls? Cuba? Russia? Africa or Sweden?

    “Explosives were found, trained in the USA”.. funny stuff.. Next thing you know they’ll say they found an atomic bomb at Leopoldo’s jail cell, or a machine gun with Lilian, and grenades with Maria Corina. How dumb do they think people are? Who is gonna believe that surreal crap? Not many.

  3. If you wanna know more about how this government arrests people, look no further than Coromoto Rodríguez’ case.

    Even the prosecutor said they had no reason to keep him jailed since it was proven that he had no relation to the kids arrested. He’s still in jail because the judge “was told that he had crimes pending”.

    This is more of the same. Diosdado acts like the scourge of the party, Ramos was 100% right about him.

  4. OT- Does anyone know of any Sept 1 protest events in Washington, DC?

    We need to motivate our Government to protect Venezuelans who want Maduro out.

    • Good to see Mr Bean (aka Zapatero) in Caracas to help with the discussions as the collectivos and Nazi-guard are beating the crap out of peaceful protestors. That seems to be the type of discussions that Mr Bean intents to pursue.

      • As a Mr. Bean fan I’m deeply offended (almost triggered) by the comparison. Unlike Zapatero, Mr Bean was always on the joke.

  5. ISTM that it is very important for the oppo to know who ordered this and why. The oppo needs to establish an organization chart for the regime, especially its security forces and paramilitary auxiliaries; but also for the money, whatever is left. Who gives orders to whom? Who can write a check, and for how much?

    Without a systematic effort to pin this down, the battle is in a fog.


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