Alfredo Figuera, the 18-year old boy who had been declared brain-dead after been shot to the head while protesting in Aragua, finally died yesterday.
According to CNE rectora Sandra Oblitas, it’s a contradiction to “seek to configure democracy while blocking the right to vote,” but consolidating a dictatorship with the unconstitutional imposition of an election nobody wants? That’s wise indeed.
Táchira state’s Security secretary, Ramón Cabeza, urged authorities to invalidate fuel chips for car owners who participate in protests, and his Zulian counterpart, Biagio Parisi, announced that people who block main avenues will be arrested.
CICPC helicopter pilot Óscar Pérez isn’t on Interpol’s wanted list, which means Interior minister Néstor Reverol lied again.
And PDVSA Gas vice-president César Triana denied reports of household gas shortages in the country, despite daily protests. I could go on, but there are more serious matters.
A cross for shame
Last night, Nicolás decorated colonel Lugo, commander of the GN unit assigned to the National Assembly. A standing ovation on VTV on Tuesday and the fact that he’s keeping his post weren’t enough. The regime needed a symbolic boost to savagery, to the guarantee of impunity as long as they remain in power despite their lack of support and votes. Those who control the weapons by law, need other incentives. Now, along with the rest of his useless medals, Lugo bears the Cross of the Presidential Honor Guard, just for recording and spreading his insults against lawmaker Julio Borges, and nothing else.
That’s why the prize was a cross, a cross of dishonor, the only thing Nicolás can give now.
By decorating colonel Lugo, Nicolás legitimized each human rights violation against Venezuelans, each murder committed by the National Guard and the PNB; it was a celebration of the tear-gas used to choke residents of Caricuao, Ruiz Pineda, El Valle, La Vega, Propatria and Catia – a hug for every protester injured in Chacao and Baruta yesterday –. Nicolás rewarded the illegal arrest of 31 university students in El Rosal, he approved that they were robbed and locked in a truck, that the GN waited for the tear-gas to fill the truck’s cabin to shut the doors, even though the students’ hands were tied and there was no ventilation. The students are being held in El Helicoide, as if protesting was a crime, as if torture could extol the purpose of the regime’s thugs and the sociopaths who command them.
The Prosecutor’s Office indicted former National Guard general commander and current Capital District Government chief, Antonio Benavides Torres, for “allegedly committing serious and systematic human rights violations during more than 80 days of nationwide protests.” The PO elaborates that in many of these incidents, there’s evidence of excessive use of force, use of unauthorized firearms, inadequate use of supplied equipment, cruel treatment and torture, as well as home searches without judicial warrants and damages to private property.
Benavides is to be questioned by 49th national prosecutor Oliver Uribe Pinto next Wednesday, July 5th, and he must go with his defense lawyer, after taking an oath before a court of first instance of control of Caracas’ Metropolitan Area. The PO is carrying out 450 investigations for fundamental rights violations, which include 23 people murdered and 853 wounded by police and military officers.
This Thursday, Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Díaz requested the National Assembly to ratify the appointment of Deputy Prosecutor General Rafael González Arias. Speaker Julio Borges said that the Legislative Branch will fulfill its constitutional duty and process the Prosecutor’s Office’s request to authorize the Deputy Prosecutor’s appointment, adding that Ortega Díaz’s request confirms her commitment with the Constitution and restates her support for Parliament’s call: upholding article 333 of the Constitution.
The Inter American Commission of Human Rights condemned the repression exercised by State security forces during protests, urging the State to immediately investigate the murders and to uphold the guarantees of due process, remarking that it’s crucial that these actions are duly punished, in order to prevent the disproportionate use of force: exactly the opposite of what the government does.
The IACHR said it is concerned by armed assaults involving the GN, SEBIN and the PNB and by their actions in residential areas, as well as their systematic and indiscriminate use of repression, the opaque nature of their operations and the lack of official information regarding compliance with legal requirements to perform searches and arrests.
After meeting with his American counterpart Rex Tillerson, Spanish Foreign minister Alfonso Dastis said:
“We must keep increasing the pressure so that Venezuela can return to democracy, political prisoners are released and true, free, universal and secret elections are held.”
He regretted the failure of the OAS’s initiative in Cancún.
Venezuela’s apostolic nuncio, Mgr. Aldo Giordano was granted an audience with the Pope. He said that the Pope “has expressed his proximity and affection for Venezuela, and particularly, he expresses his suffering and recognition for the victims of violence, especially youths and their families.”
We’ve been protesting in Venezuela for 90 days, under the sun and the rain, under exhausting repression. I confess I’m shocked by the students locked in a truck, because I’ve choked on tear-gas in open areas and imagining the effects in a closed space with hands tied is disturbing to me. The cruelty and malice of security forces knows no boundaries. Crimes against humanity never expire, that’s going to be their real cross. For a free and just country, we go on.