Photo: @AbgMCrovato

The last few days have been hectic for human rights lawyer Marcelo Crovato, his wife and two children: over the weekend, he crossed the border to Colombia and reunited with his family. He left without telling his parents and friends, afraid for his life. Almost four years of unfair imprisonment ended when they finally arrived at the Buenos Aires International Airport.

“It was a huge emotion to know that we were already here (in Buenos Aires), that my freedom was complete and security is total for me and my family,” he said to La Nación.

Marcelo Crovato’s ordeal started in 2014, when he worked as a human rights lawyer for NGO Foro Penal Venezolano. During the protests in April that year, a neighbor asked him for help, as the authorities raided homes in Chacao. He was detained and later charged with broad crimes like “public instigation to commit crimes,” “obstruction of public roads” and “disobeying laws”.

Crovato was sent to Yare III prison, in which he lost 35 kilograms and slept on the floor side by side with common criminals. Depression settled in, to the point where he tried to kill himself. Ten months later, he was given house arrest, but his legal nightmare would continue.

Fellow Caracas Chronicles collaborator Manuel Llorens wrote about Crovato’s situation back in October of 2016. His trial had been deferred thirty-two times, and his home was even robbed (the police officer assigned to his custody was beat up and lost her firearm).

After two years of being detained in Venezuela without proper sentence, by law, I should have been released, but the court ignored that.

Crovato’s case has received attention by human rights group Amnesty International: Mariela Belski, executive director of AI Argentina’s chapter, wrote an article about him last year. The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has also taken a look at his case in this letter from November 2017, where they ask the Bolivarian Republic for additional information.

Since Crovato’s mother is Argentinean, his legal situation got into the local political agenda: earlier this year, a group of legislators led by Cornelia Schmidt-Liermann (current head of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Chamber of Deputies) asked Venezuela to give the lawyer “humanitarian measures”. When news of the escape broke, Schmidt showed her public support on Twitter, and Crovato himself replied.

Crovato explained to La Nación that “we got out because we knew that in Venezuela I would never have justice. For example, the first hearing on my case should have been held sixty days after my arrest and, almost four years in, it hasn’t happened. After two years of being detained in Venezuela without proper sentence, by law, I should have been released, but the court ignored that.”

The legal limbo, along with the sadness of not providing for his family and not having medicines to treat his skin cancer forced his hand. He planned in secret for months, leaving everyone in the dark for their own protection. In the end, it all went well.

Crovato and his family will now start over in Argentina, but he still deserves acquittal of those questionable (and now void) charges. Sadly, other Venezuelan political prisoners face the same ordeal he did, like National Assembly Deputy Gilber Caro.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. The regime stands on its capacity to instill fear on people , fear of losing their jobs , or clap bags , or of getting beat and tortured if you participate in protests or other organized forms of open opposition , of being sent to prison under harsh conditions and for an arbirarily undefined term , of losing your business or posessions just to show how unlimited their control over your life …….they target some to make them into exemplary objects of their brutality , this is more important to them than getting fanatized supporters on board their clownish band wagon spectacles ……Crovato was selected as one of those they make exemplary victims of their brutality , to do so they will make up whatever pretext they think up no matter how incredible and absurd …., this the way of tyrannies !! he wasnt the first one nor will he be the last one !!

  2. One Last Breath….. or a Hollywood movie script

    Last year we all saw dozens of times that there is in fact a passion and fight in the Venezuelan people, IN VENEZULEA. Large and small protests, during a 4 month span, that included much death. There was real progress toward a positive change. Of course we know, the political class capitulated, and poof all the energy disappeared into what seems now as eternal despair.

    The Chronicles reports almost daily of the hardships the population endures, and though most of us sit in the safety of a foreign land, it is hard not to believe what is being written. And harder to try to understand how the population accepts it. The apathy, is astounding. It is like a slow motion view of a deer caught in the headlights. We are all yelling at our computer screens…. Move – damn-it!!

    We know, the political parties have collapsed upon their fantasies that negotiation offered change. Further, Venezuelan politics in general is based upon the promised distribution of “the mother lode” perpetual oil riches, so there is a natural hesitation to change. Who wants to blow up the system that pays you for status and not worth?

    How ever one analyzes it, and god knows, I do not understand many of the in’s and out’s, but politics through and through has collapsed.

    So now, only the people are left, and they are leaderless, and they know that there vote does not count.

    For sure, they have hundreds of ideas on what to change, but no leaders or ways to express. They know gatherings, and protests, will be met with violent reprisals from the military, collectivos and Sebin. Even so, I am sure there are many out there – underground, planning, and risking there lives.

    Well, boys and girls. Sorry, to burst your bubble. But this a’int no movie.
    This is your life, your country. It been 10 months now! Wake up.

    For gods’ sake stand up for your country, before you do not have any chance left.

    MADURO wants a VOTE – Give it to him

    You (still) have Twitter, and Social Media – a Bazooka of a Weapon.

    VOTE on May 20 – “vote with your feet” and NOT in the voting booth

    Maduro WANTS A TURNOUT.

    He wants to show the world the massive support he has. Maduro, one might guess, is planning to make it easy to vote, by giving time off work, freedom of travel, and access to as many fractions as possible on election day. Of course not to all, but Maduro’s energy will be targeted on the election, on the back-end fraud his team needs to commit on election day and before, and on his and Chavista Party’s PR, through TV and social media.

    SO THE KING WANTS A TURN-OUT? – GIVE IT TO HIM.

    ON ELECTION DAY – EVERY VENEZUELAN MUST VOTE WITH THEIR FEET.
    Something like, “mi pais mis pies” on election day. Or “2 feet beats 1 ballot” or whatever phrase that can generate a meaning for change.

    Everyone is encouraged to “vote their feet” to express wishes for a better life (Food, Medicine, Safety, Electricity), or freedom, or government, or, whatever.

    But the real meaning is that everyone needs to get on there feet and go to every capital building in every large city, and “vote with your feet” and NOT at the voting booth.

    Everyone to MIRAFLORES, in every city.

    Of course Maduro will get wind of this, if in fact it became big, and what choice then?
    Ignore it?, Delay the vote? , Cancel the vote?

    And, if there was that “one last breath”, and there was a massive outpouring of the Venezuelan people to vote with their feet on that ONE DAY to Miraflores…

    At best, the following day Maduro would be gone.

    And at worst it would be a day that all Venezuleans would remember.

    Exhale. Hope …. or lights on, please exit toward the rear.

    • They’ll vote for their CLAP box.

      My nephew just returned to VZ after a 3-month tourist stay in Miami during which he worked every hour he could get. (It’s easy to work illegally in this country, and people are still shocked that Trump won.) His wife and one of his kids have passports and visas, but they can’t get a passport for the younger child. Chavismo inefficiencies I suspect. Nothing more nefarious. But who knows.

      He worked so that when he returned, he might be able to live a SEMBLANCE of a normal life, even for a short time, with some U.S. dollars in his pocket. But upon returning, he called my wife and said he couldn’t believe how much prices had gone up in the short three months he was away. Of course, having greenbacks will help him, but not nearly so much help as he thought his work would provide.

      Forget hyperinflation and comparisons to Zimbabwe, because this isn’t just worse. Or a horse of a different color.

      VZ is now a totally different animal.

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