Photo: El País


At the Casa Amarilla, the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters, the government held its latest mockery against the first political prisoners who received different imprisonment conditions, with precautionary measures that deny any possibility of a full release. The event was presided by Delcy Rodríguez as representative of the ANC’s Truth Commission, accompanied by imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab; governors Laidy Gómez, Antonio Barreto, Ramón Guevara and Alfredo Díaz, and politicians Pedro Pablo Fernández and Javier Bertucci. Arrogance marked an event that should’ve expressed magnanimity, therefore Rodríguez and Saab gave improvised speeches, leaping from advice of good behavior, ratifications of the historic importance of the event, to the point of admitting that the “beneficiaries” were in fact political prisoners. Perhaps the fact that they had to improvise so much on their speeches forced the regime to interrupt live broadcast but, of course, such interruption is the message in itself.

Justice over Twitter

The PSUV militants that pass of VTV journalists tirelessly repeated that this is a “benefit” granted by Nicolás, as if the fact that holding such an event in the Casa Amarilla instead of a court, wasn’t enough evidence of the decision’s executive origin. In any case, Delcy Rodríguez said that Nicolás “requested this measure as broad as possible for citizens imprisoned for political reasons” and Tarek William Saab also said that Nicolás ordered the releases, making him personally responsible for the arbitrary detentions of several Venezuelans. It was later that chief justice Maikel Moreno came up on Twitter, breaking down the information about the “beneficiaries”, making sure to add pictures of him in every tweet, a crucial element to measure his self-esteem issues.

Official imperative

Omitting the precarious health condition exhibited by most political prisoners, Delcy asked for the imposition of respect, the imposition of dialogue. VTV’s anchor kept referring to the “beneficiaries” as criminals, while Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza decided to issue orders on how to interpret –both in Venezuela and abroad- Nicolás’s magnanimity. Time and again, they referred to political prisoners as transgressors of the Law without any sort of evidence or trial. Jorge Rodriguez summed up the “release” as a more robust proof of Venezuelan democracy, so robust that the government turns what should be the norm into something extraordinary, that freedom is a show, when they’re merely granting house arrest measures to citizens who weren’t declared criminals by any court.

Not all are political prisoners

They’re barred from leaving the country and mist report to court every 15 or 30 days. They can’t offer statements to media outlets nor use social networks, imposing censure over their stories (NGO Espacio Público explained this State censorship mechanism in their Report for 2017: “indefinite silence through precautionary measures”.) The real political prisoners of this group are:

  1. Carmen Alicia Gutiérrez: cosmetologist, wife of colonel José de Jesús Gámez Bustamante, another political prisoner. She’s accused of conspiring against the government. Arrested in January, 2015.
  2. Carmen Briones: arrested in March, 2015, for “disseminating rumors about kidnapped children,” an announcement made by then prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Díaz and broadcast by Nicolás.
  3. Daniel Ceballos Morales: former mayor of San Cristóbal, arrested in March, 2014.
  4. Diannet Milagros Blanco: teacher, with an unfinished thesis on Women Studies. Arrest in May 2017.
  5. Diego Gómez: arrested in January, 2018, for using social networks to encourage protests. He turned 18 years old while imprisoned in El Helicoide. He’d been issued a release warrant on February 28, 2018.
  6. Dylan Canache: minor. He’d been issued a release warrant on February 28. He wasn’t released after the riot at El Helicoide because his documents had been “misplaced,” so he was transferred to detention center for minors in Coche.
  7. Ender González: arrested in January, 2018, accused of “inciting hate” for encouraging protests on Facebook. He turned 18 years old in El Helicoide and he’d been issued a release warrant on February 28.
  8. Fermín Cocchioni: friend of Armando Cañizalez, a student killed during protests in Las Mercedes. He offered statements to several outlets about the circumstances of that murder and was arrested in May, 2017, without an arrest warrant.
  9. Geraldine Chacón: member of NGO Community Ambassadors. She’d been issued a release warrant in April.
  10. Gregory Hinds: member of NGO Community Ambassadors. He’s been issued a release warrant in April.
  11. Juan Pablo Giraldo: with an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science, arrested in September, 2014, for “financing terrorism.”
  12. Juan Pedro Lares: son of Omar Lares, former mayor of Campo Elías Municipality. He was arrested without an arrest or search warrant. There was never a judicial warrant against him, he was not accused of any crime, nor was he presented before a court.
  13. Marianyelis Sánchez: she joined the hunger strike of the women held at El Helicoide on May 19.
  14. Melanye Álvarez: dancer arrested in January, 2018. Member of NGO Jóvenes Venezolanos. She joined the hunger strike of May 19.
  15. Ninoska Josefina Bolívar: she joined the hunger strike of May 19.
  16. Stefanny Salazar: arrested in May, 2017. She’s been the victim of numerous tortures and human rights violations.
  17. Virgen Quintanillo: arrested in July, 2017, for her alleged involvement in the fire of a PSUV office.

They were already free

Four women mentioned in this first list were already under house arrest: Brigitte Herrada, teacher graduated of Special Education (UPEL, Maracay); under house arrest since November, 2017; Erika Palacios Alfonzo, arrested in January, 2018, was the first woman prosecuted for crimes established in the Hate Law; María Elena Uzcátegui, arrested in September, 2014, for sheltering students who were protesting; and Nazareth Vásquez, audiovisual producer, arrested in July, 2017, for allegedly being linked with inspector Óscar Pérez.

The common prisoners

Angelis Quiroz, shareholder and director of authorized dealer La Venezolana, imprisoned on April 29, 2015, for her alleged involvement in a scam affecting over 6,000 people, was released in this group and she was bold enough to express her joy last night. 16 people who attacked Henri Falcón’s campaign event on April 2, 2018, were also released. In this event, lawmaker Teodoro Campos was injured. They are: Alexis Alcalá Duque, Diego Medrano, Edisson Pichardo (with a trial for homicide,) Gabriel Vega Gutiérrez, Gregori Pulido, Hoffman Díaz, Jairo Peñuela, Jorge Galán, José Alexis De Los Santos, José González León, Junior Pérez Montilla, Luis Acosta Herrera, Luis Orozco, Ramón Ruiz González, Yancer Soto and Yessica Cordero López. Lastly, I couldn’t find any reference on María Angelina Salcedo Torres. Yesterday’s exercise was enough to declare the huge disparity in the available information about the political prisoners: dealing with official opacity was enough. It’s crucial that NGOs cross-check their information and share it with the public!

Many more remain

My respects to the political prisoners present in the Casa Amarilla. They demonstrated such temperance and sobriety during the speeches of their captors, while they condemned them to silence, with the country as a bigger, less dark prison. Corporality always says a lot and yesterday was no exception, with Saab’s being the worst presentation. Nicolás is light years from any kind of democratic recognition. He should’ve remained silent yesterday, but once again his hubris got the best of him.  This Friday kept us at the edge, to reach the brief videos of the releases, with the solvency of innocence, with the promise of a freedom to build.

I only think of the metropolitan policemen imprisoned for the past 16 years.

-Many more still remain-

UPDATE

Lousy Magnanimity

Nicolás spoke yesterday Afternoon about the release of 39 prisoners by the ANC’s Truth Committee. “Release all those who must be released,” was how he summed up his good will while in a meeting with his version of a broad front, an absurdity made up of the same old faces as always. Nicolás lied. He said that opposition militants and leaders who had committed crimes of political violence had been released, but he also claimed that all those who are plotting now will be punished, because he has the right to administer justice. “I don’t want a coup or a counter-coup, even when we’re ready to triumph over whatever comes and actively neutralize any golpista sector in this country,” he said in his lousy magnanimity, right before appointing Aristóbulo Istúriz to negotiate with MUD, before claiming that he wants dialogue even with his own shadow and suggesting that only Diosdado Cabello knows whom he’s met with. But he also wants the opposition to give him concrete ideas to “overcome the economic blockade,” so the millions of frozen dollars can be “released”, his best recent argument to justify the shortages of medicine and food.

United Parliaments

This Friday, a Summit for Venezuela was held with the attendance of lawmakers from Venezuela, Colombia and other Latin American countries. They agreed to disregard the results of May 20 elections and announced a legislative agenda to facilitate migration operations for Venezuelans with expired documents. Rodrigo Lara, head of Colombia’s Chamber of Representatives, said that the National Assembly (AN) is the only institution that can legitimately speak for the country. Omar Barboza restated that “the only legitimate power that’s left is the National Assembly and we have the dignity to represent the people,” emphasizing that the origin of this unprecedented humanitarian crisis is political. Northern Santander governor William Villamizar spoke about the four million Venezuelans who have arrived to Colombia, explaining the relevance of migration flows and the impact they’ve had for his region.

Legislative Agreements

With the declaration, the parliamentarians agreed to: call on the international community to join efforts to restore the principle of branch autonomy and independence; condemn the Venezuelan government for seeking to silence complaints about systematic human rights violations taking place in the country; recognize the serious humanitarian crisis that we’re going through; reject human rights violations and recognize the international community’s “responsibility of protection.” For this, the lawmakers promised to develop a common agenda to respond to the current crisis, including granting political asylum to democratically elected officials and leaders; facilitate the stay and transit of Venezuelans with expired passports and documents; make stay and residence requisites for Venezuelans as well as the criteria to certify the migrant’s academic degrees. Also, the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs will be called to coordinate regional assistance for Venezuelan migrants and urge the creation of an International Cooperation Fund to guarantee humanitarian attention and labor insertion for them.

Briefs and Serious

  • It’s been a year since the transplant program was suspended in Venezuela. Civil society organizations dedicated to the health matter have demanded that the Health Ministry reactivate the transplants, without omitting the tremendous vulnerability of transplant patients who haven’t received anti-rejection medication for months.
  • In Carabobo, the CICPC arrested doctors Diego Zerpa and Wolman Granado, first year residents of postgraduate studies in surgery at the Dr. Enrique Tejera Hospital City for “allegedly stealing supplies.” They were taken to the detention center located in Plaza de Toros.
  • Gilber Caro was taken from the Fénix Penitentiary Center in Barquisimeto to the 6th Military Control Court of Carabobo state for the preliminary hearing that has been postponed 12 times. It’s not clear if the lawmaker will be a beneficiary of coming releases.
  • The secretary of Zulia’s Governor’s Office made up an absurd explanation for the collapse of the electrical system: “We have a phenomenon called… equinoichi (sic), where we stand too close, too close to the sun and of course…,” said the genius. Meanwhile, Corpoelec employees are planning a strike for next Monday.
  • All the lawyers of political prisoners agreed on the need for them to be fully released without any precautionary measures.

Abroad

  • Argentina’s Federal Chamber confirmed that the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, 2015, four days after accusing the then president Cristina Fernández of sheltering alleged terrorists, was a homicide and not a suicide.
  • Spanish president Mariano Rajoy was removed from office by a motion of no confidence in Parliament and was replaced by Pedro Sánchez. The motion received the support of a majority of lower chamber lawmakers, 180 out of 350 and was promoted after judicial institutions accused the People’s Party for a serious corruption case.
  • Monedero made history with his attitude against Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, holding her by the shoulders while he criticized her thirst for revenge. That’s how miserable chavismo’s friends are, while in here, officials celebrated Rajoy’s departure for a case of co-rrup-tion.
  • Donald Trump confirmed the summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for June 12 in Singapore. Remarking that the agreement with North Korea will be a process, he claimed to think that it’ll be successful.
  • At least four American countries would be willing to denounce Nicolás before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, according to OAS secretary general Luis Almagro.
  • The official explanation given by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo about the massacre of the march on Mother’s Day breaks the records of cynicism and lies. Ignoring the accounts of hundreds of people, the pictures and the videos, the duo tried to deny what had happened in Nicaragua.
  • This Monday, U.S. vice-president Mike Pence will request the countries participating in the OAS General Assembly to take the opportunity to suspend Venezuela from the organization, an action that requires 24 votes out of the 35 member countries. Mike Pompeo will speak this Monday before the General Assembly and Venezuela’s expected to be a relevant matter in his agenda.

Expectations for new releases today are quite high. We go on.

 

 

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

17 COMMENTS

  1. These prisoners are being shamelessly used as political chips, which underscores the chickenshit soul of Chavismo. Ignoring human rights and justice is the earmark of 3rd world evil and ignorance. Once the regime goes crashing down, these people should never be allowed o leave the country or given amnesty. THAT would be an ever greater crime.

  2. Maybe it’s not relevant but words like “ANC”, “Truth Commision” “Prosecutor General” and any other legal or political entity coming out of the “ANC” fiasco, should always be enclosed in quotes and the use of the word “alleged” should be profuse. Not doing si is a tacit recognition of these abhorrent creations

  3. Seems like there are only a few people remaining who understand the importance of the constitutional figleaf. However, their efforts are getting undermined those whose hubris won’t allow them to accept limits on their power.

  4. Excuse me. I’m on a soap box today.

    To kill some time I just “Those Who Stay” in NY Times about Young idiots in Caracas, only be interested in dancing and getting some more tattoo’s. Good look for VZ in the future, LOL For old fart, that had start working a 15. and educated himself (in STEM). It I still pay attention the world around me (but try to think not politics) Of the current generation, so still looks lazy and getting more educated – (let’s get high on some Good Venezuelan Coke) . Then I read something that millennial if they would rather live under a socialist state. – The dumbing down the down the gene pool. Can’t wait for the next comet impact.

    Piece- have a happy one

    • Hey doughboy I grew up in Alberta. Born and bred on Canadian oil. Who did you work for if you don’t mind me asking? You are Russian I take it by your vocabularial accent? And yes I invent words all the time too!

      • My pleasure . I ‘m from Los Angeles (not Russian) – as to
        my vocabularial accent? – the I stroke a about three years. I try to keep my mind alert – mostly seeing who’s best at insults lately. As my employer (I retired now – 4 years) – I worked for Parsors / Worley-Parsons (got loaned out to Colt, Edmonton, – got visit Ft. Mac. – I spent 2003-5 helping Imperial Project for Nanticoke – and went there for start-up) (Got to visit Ft Nelson Gas Plant in jan. 1980 – brrrrrr). Spent most my career knowing how to recover Sulphur (Canadian spelling) and ammonia out of oil / nat. gas. I Spent longest lime time Venezuela (over 6 years) and got opposed too stuff three – my wife keeps sayings I suffer from morbid curiosity relative to VZ.

        • Hey doughboy, try talking to most youth here, and you will quickly find out that most hate communism. Among any student who goes to a university now, Che Guevara is nothing more than a stale fart. Yes, most of the politically active have left the country after giving up hope in 2014 and 2017.
          Nevertheless, it is old f&*ks your age in Venezuela who refuse to go out to the street and rather hang out in centro commerciales while the students are hechando vaina. They feel betrayed by old f*&ks your age!!!!! To add more fuel to the fire: old f*&ks your age are the c*&ts that voted for Chavez!!!

          So doughboy, dont blame this one on the Venezuelan youth because many Venezuelan youths have cajones way bigger than yours.

          Doughboy you are a douchebag and have no clue what is really going on in Venezuela. Go ahead and be an armchair quarterback in LA, but the truth of the matter is that without the Venezuelan youth the final nail would have been firmly set in the coffin by now. There is still hope thanks to the Venezuelan youth.

          • It obvious that you equate “ball” size to something useful (LOL). I spent oven six years at the sited in Amuay, Puerto La Cruz, Maturin and Jose – I worked for your oil industry until 2001. I tried to avoid Caracas- Even then – too unsafe –
            But try blame to me for country situation – I liked Pinochet (and the work “the Boys from Chicago” has performed on that country).
            One thing I noticed when I was there, how much Venezuelans need to party. Just my observation.

            Since I had my Stroke in LA and not Caracas, I can attempt argue about size of baseball.

  5. Naky/Javier, outdoing themselves in completeness/detail. Prisoners released were partly already “released” but still illegally detained, partly new releases, partly common criminals, partly Colectivos properly imprisoned, and all together many less in total than the recent newly political/military (rumored 200+) imprisoned.

    • I agree that the distinction is important.
      At the same time, I feel that it would not have made a great deal of difference if Maduro had released half of the real political prisoners and kept the rest.
      You cannot be a little bit pregnant and you can’t be a little bit totalitarian. A regime cannot claim any moral high ground by releasing some political prisoners. It has to release all political prisoners. Even if it keeps only a handful of political prisoners, the regime is making the statement that it has the power to imprison people for the crime of holding a contrary opinion and is prepared to use that power. This present exercise is exactly like a kidnapping group releasing some hostages, and even then is flawed by using the propaganda exercise to mask the release of some of the kidnappers themselves.

  6. I promised myself that I would not allow myself to be drawn into the absurd off-topic irrelevancies which have coloured CC threads recently because of one person or another wanting to rant about the US President. However, the lucidity of the statement by Lisandro Cabello – blaming the equinox for the lack of electricity supply in Zulia – forces me to reconsider my position.
    The vernal equinox occurs in March. And since Sr Cabello referred to the proximity of the sun, I think, despite the evidence of the superior intellect he displayed on camera, that he was actually referring to the summer solstice – which occurs in June. The scientifically established fact therefore is that it is actually the summer solstice wot dunnit. Moreover, equinoxes (or solstices, as he meant to say), according to the razor-sharp forensic reasoning of Sr Cabello, do not fall under the heading of “este tema astronómico”, as you might think, but rather under the heading of “este tema climático”, in other words, Climate Change. So the indisputable scientific fact is that there is no electricity in Zulia because Climate Change is causing summer solstices. Climate Change, as everyone knows, is caused by President Trump.

  7. They have to be careful with who they release, somewhere in that group is our future presidente(a). Make sure they have beaten or psycoterrored these people enough that they will not dare to lead or follow any opposition after they are released. The tide is turning. This is the age of Aquarius enlightenment information the truth will come into the light here and everywhere.
    Who knows, maybe the world is about to end and this is all just a big circle jerk anyway? Who knows, I’m going to the beach with my kids. For me it’s all about quality of life. I have an interesting tidbit for y’all when I get to my computer. To awkward on the phone!

  8. The official explanation given by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo about the massacre of the march on Mother’s Day breaks the records of cynicism and lies. Ignoring the accounts of hundreds of people, the pictures and the videos, the duo tried to deny what had happened in Nicaragua.

    Sandinista mobs, a.k.a. “turbas divinas”, (divine mobs) have been in operation since the Sandinistas first took power in 1979. As Daniel and the Comandantes imitated the Somozas in corruptly appropriating state property for themselves, the “turbas divinas” were an imitation of the Somoza mobs. The Somoza mobs were known as Nicolasa- named for Nicolasa Sevilla, their original leader. See Chapter 1 of Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here