Christmas Eve Releases

Your daily briefing for Sunday, December 24, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

This Saturday, Delcy Rodríguez speaking for the ANC —a pseudo-institution imposed by Nicolás via fraud, condemned by over 40 countries and international bodies—read a communiqué from another of the administration’s shenanigans, the Truth Commission, which “recommended” the release of dissidents arrested during the protests of 2014 and 2017, contradicting Diosdado Cabello’s statements about the impossibility of releasing any political prisoners ever.

Rodríguez emphasized that potential “beneficiaries” (in both civilian and military jurisdictions) to be released on parole, had to first confess their “fascist intentions” before the truth commission, and they’d be required to do community work. And thus, the Venezuelan government acknowledges the existence of political prisoners, releasing prisoners as arbitrarily as they detained them, conditioning their freedom to self-incrimination (because humiliation is key for political domination), adding another scale of human rights abuse to the files of crimes that never expire; showing that releasing these prisoners is a political decision which has nothing to do with the justice system.


Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab and chief justice Maikel Moreno announced that prosecutors and courts had been ordered to comply with the ANC’s decision and proceed to release a group of political prisoners with precautionary measures. I’m always willing to mention Saab’s huge syntax mistakes, which make him reveal truths, such as his tweet summarizing yesterday’s decision: “The truth commission (…) will continue reviewing the applicable cases, linked to the political violence that broke out in Venezuela in pursuit of national reconciliation and peace,” in other words, the prosecutor recognizes that the goal of protests was to achieve reconciliation. In any case, both did their best to show how the Executive Branch controls the public apparatus, without independence or autonomy.

The inquisition

People who were arbitrarily detained, who have been held imprisoned and even isolated in many cases, violating every principle of due process, without trials or sentences, had to go before Foreign Ministry headquarters to be humiliated in exchange for their release with precautionary measures. Sadly, the Truth Commission didn’t bother to investigate the authorities that held so many people in dungeons without a trial, or those responsible for their legal cases. Political prisoners were forced to listen to Delcy, but that does nothing to legitimize the ANC, it only confirms that there are no institutions, no branch autonomy and much less justice in Venezuela.

If this action is a consequence of the negotiations in the Dominican Republic, they should’ve taken optics into account, because their arrogance throughout the whole process shattered any idea that this was an act of good will. However, Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas immediately predicted a better scenario for dialogue, remarking that this “is a boost” and that the government “is showing its willingness to move on with dialogue and negotiations to reach an agreement through a peaceful, democratic and stable solution.”

Personas non gratas

Yesterday, Delcy Rodríguez, who’s no longer the Foreign Minister and holds no diplomatic office at all, announced that the government had declared Canada’s Chargé d’Affaires Craig Kowalik a persona non-grata, “due to his permanent, insistent, obscene and vulgar meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.” She did the same with Brazilian ambassador Ruy Pereira, “until constitutional order, which the de facto government violated in the case of this neighboring country, had been restored.”

In diplomatic terms, this means both officials are being expelled from the country. No diplomatic mission has delivered as detailed a recount of the institutional chaos that we’re experiencing as the Canadian government. Their most recent statement addressed the ANC’s decision to force certain political parties to re-register, considering it to be yet another threat to the rights of Venezuelans to freely choose our leaders, saying: “While the ANC is undermining democracy in Venezuela, the humanitarian situation is only getting worse.” The Brazilian government issued a statement saying that if the decision is confirmed, they’d respond in kind, and criticized Nicolás’ authoritarianism and “his lack of disposition for any kind of dialogue.”

Released thus far

The number of “beneficiaries” changed throughout the day, with little to no official information to go on. Delcy originally said that 80 political prisoners would be released; minutes later, Tarek William Saab spoke of 69, although the number of persons taken over to the Casa Amarilla to humiliate themselves was much lower. The vigil of the prisoner’s families at the gates of SEBIN headquarters, waiting around amid confusion and no information, outside El Helicoide has been terribly cruel, the suspense for the freedom of their relatives—which should’ve never been taken away in the first place— shows that the regime can do whatever it wants with political prisoners. 12 of the 14 Polichacao were released, even though all of them should’ve been released in 2016. Professor Carlos Pérez and student Héctor Alejandro Zerpa (prisoners since 2014) were also released, as well as engineer Juan Miguel De Sousa, allegedly with the condition that he must leave to Portugal. Betty Gossi, Danny Abreu, Andrea González and Carmen Salazar were released later, followed by Leonel Sánchez, Rafael Liendo, Ronny Navarro and Victor Ugas, who were arrested for using Twitter. The process is taking forever. Brothers and Primero Justicia members Francisco Alejandro and Francisco José Sánchez were released under circumstances that the party didn’t explain.

This is the most updated list so far:

1. Francisco Alejandro Sánchez

2. Francisco José Sánchez 

3. Venus Medina

4. María Pérez

5. César Mijares

6. Ángel Sánchez

7. Alfredo Chirinos

8. Jorge Delgado

9. Ever Meneses

10. Darwin Herde

11. Miguel Mora

12. Eduardo Salazar  

13. Jhony Velásquez 

14. Edgar González

15. Alfredo Ramos 

16. Carlos Pérez

17. Alejandro Zerpa 

18. Miguel de Sousa

19. Andrea González  

20. Betty Grossi

21. Carmen Salazar

22. Dany Abreu 

23. Rafael Liendo 

24. Víctor Ugas 

25. Ronny Navarro

26. Leonel Sánchez 

27. Andreas Díaz 

28. Marco Rada 

29. Jorge Castro  

30. Ángel Marrufo

31. Alexander Sierra

32. Edgar Vargas

33. Jhon Castillo 

34. Miguel Cegarra 

35. Luis Ospina

36. Alfredo Ocanto

37: Santiago Guevara 

38. Jhosman Paredes 

39. Roberto Picón

Restricted or conditional freedom isn’t enough. Families have reasons to celebrate that their relatives will spend Christmas at home—some for the first time in many years. But let us never forget that this is not the government doing us a favor, this is not a concession or something that merits thank you’s.

Justice demands prosecution of those who play at being benevolent, those responsible for arbitrary detentions, for holding innocent people in custody without a trial; against each one of the regime henchmen who have violated these people’s human rights: SEBIN officers, prosecutors, judges and every “authority“ that used the propaganda apparatus to accuse them and condemn them, inflicting terrible harm on their lives. Even though they’re not truly free, today they’ll be with their families and that’s a priceless change.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.