Photo:Wtop retrieved

I imagine how peculiar the life of an outlaw must be.

I also imagine how tortuous it must be for their relatives who, despite being blameless, must also suffer the consequences of their actions. In a country where human rights are respected, visiting inmates and bringing them food is routine. That’s not the case in Venezuela, where relatives might be physically and psychologically assaulted, a common scene within the confines of the Preventive Arrests and Detentions Center of Cabimas, in Zulia.

On July 22, Carolina González, an inmate’s relative, made the bus trip between Maracaibo and Cabimas (over 55 km), for a routine visit at 3:00 p.m. Upon arrival at the jail’s Section A, agents of the National Anti-Kidnapping Command (CONAS) with no ID on their uniforms received her, and other visitors, as if they were terrorists.

“They treated us like dogs, like animals,” González told Radio Fe y Alegría Noticias. “They pulled our hair, they kicked us, they broke our boys’ belongings. They threw the wallet, ID and all the rest in a bag.”

“They treated us like dogs, like animals.”

According to Andrea Briceño, another inmate’s relative, CONAS agents took over the Cabimas jail on the third week of July to inspect the prisoners in sections A and B without a court warrant because, allegedly, they housed the murderers of 28-year-old first sergeant Carlos Castillo Arteaga, member of that security branch. This contradicted the official police press release, which said “CONAS hasn’t entered or inspected that prison. They’re just nearby doing their intelligence job.”

“They tore all my bills apart,” Andrea said, “they told me that the money was to buy drugs. I needed the money for my trip back home, I spend Bs.F. 300,000 to visit my husband.”

It’s hard to know what happens within the prison. Authorities remain silent and the press has no way to independently report on the situation.

Everyone knows about the power that pranes have in Venezuelan prisons; back in July, María Espinoza, sister of 30-year-old Manuel Espinoza, known as “The Monster of Santa Rosa” for committing a crime against his three stepchildren and his wife, said that her brother wasn’t transferred to the Dr. Adolfo D’Empaire General Hospital of Cabimas to get treatment for tuberculosis, because pranes were charging him the absurd amount of Bs.F. 500 million for the move.

They groped our breasts, our buttocks, our private parts. They even called us whores.”

“A prisoner in Section A had tuberculosis,” said Marioxis Fernández, an inmate’s family member. “Another prisoner wanted to bathe him and give him water because he was covered in feces, and a CONAS agent pistol-whipped him to death. That was a Saturday; the body was removed on Sunday or Monday, already rotten. CONAS agents told us they acted on Omar Prieto’s orders.”

And this isn’t far-fetched, because Zulia governor, Omar Prieto, has frequently used a violent discourse regarding prisoners’ human rights. Last July 24, he spoke about the CONAS takeover of Cabimas jail, saying that “pranes don’t reign in Cabimas. They don’t own the place.”

And while the governor imposes his “order and authority,” he tramples everyone’s rights, like Fernández’s, who was inspected with the same glove used to inspect all women visiting: “There were over a thousand women, and they inserted a finger in our vaginas with a glove because we allegedly carried drugs. They groped our breasts, our buttocks, our private parts. They even called us whores.”

Meanwhile, Briceño says that, to see her husband for five minutes, CONAS agents made her pick garbage off the street and carry drinking water from one municipality to another, because they haven’t had any water in Cabimas for two months.

For Marioxis, “nobody’s perfect, we all make mistakes. If he’s there, it’s because he’s paying for his mistake, we’re not against that. But they don’t have to mistreat relatives that way. What can we expect, the death of our guys?”

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  1. Just another example of abysmal lack of education, putrid moral values and galactic corruption among our beloved, ‘bravo pueblo’. Yes, the animals this article talks about are average pueblo-people. These guards are typical tropical brutes, just like the Guardia Nazional Bolibabanana and the Sebin and the Collectivos: Trash. Made in Klepto-Narco Cubazuela by he millions. Not necessarily Chavistas. Just bad people, Filth, which turned Venezuela into what it is today. The lowest of the low. By its own lowly people, such as these guards and most of them in every single prison. Drug dealers, thieves, uneducated, corrupt. By the Thousands.

    Only some tough dictator like Perez Jimenez could have fixed that, and started educating such animals. Too late now. Ese se jodio.

  2. Yesterday there was some good news that the US is looking at the roots of the problem in Venezuela, the Cuban connection. The Editorial Board noted that Mauricio Claver-Carone will soon join the Trump administration as Senior Director of the National Security Council for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He has shown ” a sophisticated understanding of how Cuba uses intimidation and propaganda to attack democracy in the western hemisphere” . He is the son of a Cuban exile, a US trained lawyer (Catholuc University) and has fought for human rights in Cuba for years. He is editor of a blog, Capital Hill Cubans. I know nothing about this man other than the WSJ Editorial Board story but maybe just maybe a deal might be put together to open up US trade big time in exchange for non interference by Cuba in Venezuela.

    • I think (IMO) its a safe bet that the longer the US does nothing, the faster the demise of CubaZuela. The Castroists are doing a bang up job of destroying Venezuela… giving the Cubans access to easy dollars will only encourage the Castroists. They have zero intention of letting up in Cuba, let alone Venezuela. They are perfectly content to let their own countrymen suffer… they don’t give a second thought to Venezuela.

  3. “but maybe just maybe a deal might be put together to open up US trade big time in exchange for non interference by Cuba in Venezuela.”

    Mr. Crispin, are those thoughts yours or did you get them from the WSJ Editorial Board story?

  4. Those words represent my life long refusal to accept as inevitable or enduring bad situations. I am a realist short term but an optimist long term. Trump is not an ideologue; he is,a deal maker who will deal with folks as scummy as Kim Jong Un. He cut back on Obama’s opening to Cuba and now I see a short term reason for that decision. Now he has more bargaining leverage with Cuba. No, the WSJ did not expressly say what I said about a possible deal but think about Cuba’s situation. As Venezuela’s oil production sinks where will Cuba get its oil. Cuba will need US oil at least in the short term before new sources come on line. It makes sense for Cuba to make a deal with the US to save what is left of its own revolution. Maintaing power is the number one prioity for left wing governments.

    • The only flaw I see in your logic Mr. Crispin is that Cuba’s current cost of oil from Venezuela is relatively low compared to the world price the US would most surely charge. And while Venezuela’s output is definitely falling, has been falling for years, and will keep falling because of lack of funds to maintain the wells in producing condition, something on the order of a million barrels a day is still a lot of oil.

      On another note, I just received a message on my telephone that reads: If you’re between the ages of 18 and 30, enroll en the National Armed Forces. Present yourself at the nearest military base between the dates of 3 September and 14 October.

      I have no clue if that’s some sort of a serious draft notice or just standard regime bullshit.

    • Yeah, it makes a lot of sense to coddle a 60-yr. center for LatAm Communist insurgency in exchange for the promise they will “be good boys” from now on….


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