Maduro’s New Cells for Protesters: Shipping Containers

In Barquisimeto, one of the cities most affected by the collapse of the power network, demonstrations against the dictatorship are mercilessly punished. Now, those who fall in the hands of FAES or the National Guard can be jailed inside containers, with no fresh air or sunlight.

Photos: Karina Peraza

20-year-old José Torres is one of the 52 people arrested between April 30th and May 1st, 2019. The National Guard detained him at Venezuela Ave., Barquisimeto, when he was protesting in support of the failed rebellion to put an end to the Maduro regime.

Imprisoned for incitement and resisting authority, he’s currently among the detainees overcrowding three National Guard garrisons. According to his family, the soldiers only let his mom visit him once a week, for 20 minutes. José’s being held in a 4×4 mts. cell, and he must tend to his physiological needs in front of other detainees in a single restroom.

Eleazar Vivas, a Tourism student at the Andrés Bello Polytechnic University of Barquisimeto, was arrested by the Special Actions Forces (FAES) along with his friends Adrián Bastidas and Moisés Pineda on May 1st, also at Venezuela Ave. They’re currently held along with other 20 young men in a shipping container at the Desur National Guard garrison, without ventilation or natural light.

Families of the detained waiting at the Desur National Guard garrison. 

Mery Dugarte, Eleazar’s mother, confirmed the situation, adding that his son “is beaten by military officers every day and they don’t even let him see the sunlight.” She’s heartbroken that his son isn’t even in a cell. “They’re not criminals, I feel so helpless knowing that they’re there.”

Lawyer Abraham Cantillo, coordinator for NGO Foro Penal in Lara State, says that the legal proceedings are unwarranted and 90% of police records aren’t clear about what the detainees were doing, or where they were at the moment of their arrest.

Cantillo also denounced the inhuman conditions of other eight college students, four teenagers, six employees of the state-run company Venezolana de Cemento (Vencemos) and a supervisor of the National Electric Corporation (Corpoelec). He says that the minors are held along with common prisoners, violating the Framework Law of Children and Teenagers. 39-year-old Hilda Vargas was detained during her menstrual period and the officers didn’t give her any assistance. She’s now arrested with blood-stained clothes.

It’s the same old story. Protesters took to the streets with signs and slogans on April 30th and May 1st, to face the same consequences of 2014 and 2017. Hundreds of Venezuelans, most of them young, were jailed and subjected to inhuman treatment, held in National Guard garrisons, along with common prisoners, and we, the citizens, don’t know if this isn’t on the news because it’s not news anymore, or because the media doesn’t dare to report it.