The riot goes on

For Friday, May 18, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: El Pitazo

This Thursday marks the second day of prisoner riots at El Helicoide, and they stand by their demands. The morning report was offered by former mayor Daniel Ceballos, who hours later would assume the role of interlocutor for William Apóstol, director of the Prisons Minister.

The families waiting outside SEBIN HQ only received information through audio and video messages sent by the rebels.

Imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab denied that there were minors imprisoned there, but four of them were issued release warrants yesterday all the same; whether SEBIN will comply remains to be seen. Saab posted another couple of tweets reporting the transfer of 72 common inmates to other prisons. Various representatives from human rights NGOs stood by the families and lawyers, but each request for access was rejected with the promise that it’d be reviewed.

At nightfall, the same fate awaited the Episcopal Conference’s Justice and Peace Commission which asked for the installation of a technical roundtable. Candidate Javier Bertucci called those present to vote on Sunday, even though he was chased away with water and also denied access. At the moment, with no official information yet, there are two rumors: the offer of a dialogue roundtable to review the case of each political prisoner (which apparently they rejected) and the possibility of starting a hunger strike.


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos accused Nicolás of granting Venezuelan IDs to Colombian citizens so that they vote on May 20, saying that the plan describes “the manner, the procedures and the payments to be made to guarantee the mobilization of votes and their vote in Maduro’s favor.”

Santos gave instructions to the public force to redouble border controls and prevent the transport of “voters”, ratifying that this is one of the many reasons why he won’t recognize Sunday’s results. He also reported the confiscation of 25,200 food boxes that were making their way to Venezuela as part of the CLAP program, cautioning that he’ll present evidence to national and international authorities “because there could be an operation to launder millions in assets here.” Perishable food in the boxes was in an advanced state of decay due to a weevil infestation.

Picking Pack is the company that packed this food. Additionally, yesterday Cendas reported that the Basic Food Basket’s price for April was Bs. 138,855,712.85 (requiring 63.4 minimum wages to cover it,) which represents an 84% increase compared to March, and 11,337.7% compared to the basket for April 2017.

About May 20

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) held Nicolás personally responsible for the physical integrity of the political prisoners held at SEBIN HQ: “Maduro’s government is responsible for everything that happens at El Helicoide, just like Óscar Pérez’ murder (…) there’s no reason for political prisoners, these people are being held for no reason at all and must be released,” said Juan Pablo Guanipa, who also announced that they’ll stage protests on Sunday in the capitals of various countries to reject the electoral process: “May 20 marks the start of a more intense national and international effort to pressure for elections this year so we can choose a new president,” calling Nicolás a coward for putting up “a farce to try to win with your own rules.” MUD restated their call for Javier Bertucci and Henri Falcón to drop out from the race. Meanwhile, CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena claimed that Venezuela’s been targeted by “great international violence” to prevent holding elections, right before talking about her joy for all the people that’s coming to accompany (not observe) elections and her indignation for Canada’s decision.

Sad endings

Tal Cual reviewed PSUV’s documents explaining the logistics developed by the Executive for the end of Nicolás’s campaign, characterized by embezzlement and forced attendance for public employees. We all saw the lines of buses ready to spontaneously mobilize militants who actually didn’t even fill the avenue or stayed for the speech.

I don’t blame them. After dancing with his favorite buffoon, Diego Armando Maradona, Nicolás claimed to have a strategy to boost the economy, he complained about bureaucrats (who were all around him on stage) and restated that he’ll call for another dialogue process. Assertive as usual, he said: “if you don’t turn out to vote, you’re stripping me from the power to act against the economy’s criminal mafias and to do all I want to do.” So says the man who has spent half of his government with the power of a State of Emergency. Henri Falcón’s rally in Barquisimeto wasn’t particularly impressive either, even though the repeated the show of throwing banknotes. The most relevant thing he said was that after his victory, an active general will become Defense Minister.


  • European Parliament Speaker Antonio Tajani wrote about his concern for the circumstances of the riot at SEBIN HQ. So did the UN’s Human Rights office, condemning the beating against Gregory Sanabria; urging authorities to improve their treatment of prisoners and to investigate the use of torture and other abuses. UN demands that all political prisoners be released.
  • The IACHR announced its work visit to Nicaragua for May 17-21 to assess the situation. They’ll meet with State authorities, with the Episcopal Conference, NGOs and other relevant actors; they’ll also collect witness accounts from students, citizens and families that have suffered abuses during the protests against dictator Daniel Ortega.
  • While public employees were waiting for him at the Bolívar avenue, Nicolás spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said that starting on May 20, the country would receive 160 containers with food, medicines and automotive products, in addition to the containers that are supposed to be Panama already. Erdoğan also announced that he’ll soon visit Venezuela.
  • The Colombian Congress approved an agreement disregarding the May 20 process, deeming it illegitimate and without transparency guarantees.


About four billion people browse the internet, a 53% penetration index and 7% more than in 2017. About three billion of those users are active on social networks. Yesterday was the thirteenth World Internet Day with the future of its neutrality in jeopardy and the warnings for the increasing amount of data that its millions of users transfer. The Press and Society Institute released a detailed report on the status of the internet in Venezuela.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. A list of SEBIN honchos needs to be published with this caveat: These are the people who will be held responsible when Chavismo falls. Some will see long prison sentences. Others will hang. Either do the right thing now, or feel the sting of reprisals later.

    • Given the current climate in Venezuela publishing such a list might guarantee a free ride to the big house for “re-education” sessions lasting several years….or worse.

    • Pretty sure they’ll retire in luxury and safety in La Havana, or be killed by the Cubans during the Enchufado War.

    • Good Luck with that Idea …. I did some research on SEBIN. It has basically existed in one for or another since the Juan Vicente Gomez dictatorship in the early 1900s. It was formalized as a National Security Police under Eleazar López Contreras an Army General under Gomez. Eleazar followed Gomez as the “president” of Venezuela in 1935. He was also a senator for life serving from 1961 thru 1973. He together with the then Venezuelan congress create the National Security police known as the DIGEPOL. This group’s power significantly increase under Marcos Pérez Jiménez. They became his “secret political police” used to dispose of his enemies. After the over throw of Marcos Pérez Jiménez and the election of Rómulo Betancourt. Out of fear, Rómulo Betancourt in an effort to control this powerful group disbanded and replaced it with DISIP – Dirección Nacional de los Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención. Unfortunately, many of the former DIGEPOL members moved into and ran the new organization. DISIP then continued thru the democratic years into the Chavez presidency. Again out of fear of the agency, Chavez began restructuring DISIP and changing leadership to people loyal to Chavez. Eventually he re-organized and renamed the organization, now known as SEBIN, Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional. NO doubt, Maduro is also fearful of SEBIN as they seem to be ignoring orders from the court that Maduro controls for release of prisoners. Since that organization has existed thru multiple dictator and democratic governments it will take a lot of violent effort to dismantle it once teh Maduro government falls.

      • Impressive historical knowledge. Very lucid explanation too. The Venezuelan version of the U.S. “Deep State”, entrenched, semi-autonomous, not accountable, self protective, taking orders from those it pleases them to take orders from, operating under conditions of an occupying army occupying and controlling their sectors, exerting influence on others. Presumably with the goal of self-perpetuation, they make more sense than the regime, because they apparently know who feeds them, and they know to stay within bounds. If it needs to be done, do it; if it doesn’t need to be done, ignore it. The little I know of history, it sounds something like the pragmatic Prussian army – and when conditions in the country change enough, they’ll move some steps in that direction as a matter of practicality. The Swiss, long ago, blew it as mercenaries, because one side would hire some of them, another side would hire others of them, and they ended up fighting each other as mercenaries. So they reorganized to prevent that, and I believe that’s when they became Switzerland. Still maintain their tradition as mercenaries (e.g. WW II: “Nazi money is as good as Jewish money is as good as Polish money, and we will safeguard each and all … in segregated accounts, of course”), at least until the past couple of decades of new disclosure regulations. Now 50% of the population are immigrants. There was a good movie “Inside Man” about some of the intrigues. And a great script line for Jodie Foster, a civilian admonishing the Chief of Police: “And I guarantee you, my bite is much worse than my bark.” The powers unseen. (Rest easy though, the pinnacle of power rests high above mortal trappings, and that door is always open.)

  2. We need play the old Sonny and Cher song “the Beat Goes On” when we’re filming activities at El Helicoide. and about “Weevil-infested” clap package – Did that refer Mad Man Ernie brain contents (or to something Tarek sent to Miami.)

    • Doughbouy – “I Got You Babe” also works for Mad Ernie (and El Salami). Seriously, they should perform it. The irony may or may not be lost on them. That’s where this farce is,

  3. @ Doughboy….just Google Colombia seizes clap boxes and you can read all about it from many sources. Looks like 400 tons of weevil infested clap food was seized in Cartagena.


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