Simonovis isn’t in Prison

Photo: El Pitazo

“After 225 hearings, having traveled 39,000 kilometers in handcuffs, Iván Simonovis’s culpability in the accusation of “correspective complicity” in the death of two people during the events of April 11th, 2002, was never proven,” says a report made by Sheyla Urdaneta about the former Metropolitan Police commissioner who escaped house arrest this Thursday. In the morning, his wife Bony Periñez said that she didn’t know where he was and appointed Joel García as his lawyer, explaining that state Secret Police (SEBIN) agents had threatened to return her husband to prison.

In the afternoon, Joel García said that the regime hasn’t said anything “because it’s obvious that there’s no control within SEBIN,” and without any statements of proof or life, the former commissioner is currently listed as missing. As a new human rights violation, the agents posted at Simonovis’s residence arbitrarily detained 11 press workers for several hours.

Guaidó’s announcements

Caretaker President Juan Guaidó called Iván Simonovis’s escape from house arrest a release, and said it was part of Operation Freedom, explaining that he received “a pardon that wasn’t executed” on April 30th. This may be considered unwise, because it jeopardizes other beneficiaries of house arrest. Guaidó confirmed that they attended the Norwegian government’s invitation, restating that any mediation initiative must consider the end of usurpation, the transition government and free elections.

He announced that the meeting between his ambassador Carlos Vecchio and the U.S. Southern Command, with the hope of “advancing in the international cooperation Venezuela requires,” will take place on May 20th, and celebrated the end of usurpation in the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, after the police evicted Code Pink activists.

A different kind of escape

Nicolás decided to stay silent about Iván Simonovis. Understandable, he’s another political prisoner who escaped SEBIN custody despite the return of Gustavo González López as director, which could be read as evidence that divisions continue. Regarding Norway, he just restated that Jorge Rodríguez is his representative. He spoke for Code Pink activists’ human rights and announced that he’ll take his complaint for what he considers a serious violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty “to the last consequences,” demanding a statement from the UN. As a reprisal, he gave an order to reinforce the protection of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, because “the criminals are in the White House.” Nicolás announced that the National Plan for Venezuela’s change, renewal and rectification will start on June 1st; meanwhile, in a country without electricity, drinking water or fuel, he focused on the housing mission and approved $184 million to complete the construction of 500,000 housing units: tremendously cheap houses at $368 each.

Let’s talk about human rights

  • The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights issued a protective measure for deputy Gilber Caro, considering that he’s “in a serious and urgent situation, since his rights to life and integrity are facing the risk of irreparable damage.” Caro’s been missing for 19 days.

  • The IACHR’s Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression issued a statement about the violations against Freedom of Expression in Venezuela, explaining that the internet blocks “can’t be justified, even with the reasons of public order or national security, nor used as censorship measures or mechanism to prevent people’s access to information.”

  • Colombian Immigration announced measures for former Venezuelan officers that left the country: they’ll be given a Special Stay Permit, a support for basic assistance and they’ll make sure their children can study. With their civilian status, they’ll be able to work for two years.
  • Jorge Valero, regime representative before the UN, announced that Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, might visit the country before July.

Brief and serious

  • Major Jesús García Hernández, who was found dead this Thursday, was the assistant of major general Manuel Cristopher Figuera, former SEBIN director who was involved in the events of April 30th. Hernández allegedly killed himself.
  • Cristopher Figuera said that García Hernández’s “suicide” was “a targeted, paid assassination.” He says that his assistant “handled sensitive information about the most horrifying and aberrating cases of corruption” investigated during his administration.
  • PDVSA’s ad hoc Administrative Board confirmed the payment of intesters for the PDVSA 2020 bond, for $71,559,991. The payment was made in the grace period.
  • Venezuela’s International Reserves lost $11 million, dropping to $7.9 billion according to Central Bank figures.

  • Severe gasoline shortages have affected several states in the country: even with the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela isn’t capable of covering the internal fuel demand. Iván Freites, head of the National Federation of Oil Workers, denounced that Nicolás “prefers to leave the regions without fuel and send the little we have to Cuba.”

  • The Venezuelan refinery Cardon, with a capacity to produce around 310,000 barrels per day, stopped processing crude since Wednesday because some of its units are damaged. Oil upgraders at the Orinoco Oil Strip have also ceased production as units deplete the capacity to store oil that can’t be shipped due to sanctions.
  • Rocío San Miguel, head of NGO Control Ciudadano, said that the regime sent active military officers to board PDV Marina’s ships “to train and protect.” With armed military officers onboard, the ship is now a military vessel.

Other movements

  • Last night, Nicolás met in Miraflores Palace with members of the European Union’s International Contact Group. Then he met with a Chinese delegation.
  • Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said that his country’s working to solve the crisis in Venezuela through understanding and not confrontations, announcing that their might be new developments in coming days.
  • This Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump met with his Swiss counterpart Ueli Maurer, to discuss Switzerland’s role as a mediator in the conflicts of Iran and Venezuela.
  • After the meeting, President Maurer said that his country’s ready to exercise as protector of the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, but he must receive Nicolás’s approval.
  • Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met with her Cuban counterpart in Havana to discuss Venezuela’s political crisis, after the communist government said to be willing to cooperate in finding a solution.
  • Norway’s government confirmed last night that they’ve had “preliminary contacts with the main political actors in Venezuela, in an exploratory phase, with the aim of supporting the search to find a solution to the country’s situation.” They praised the parties for their efforts and restated their willingness to support a peaceful solution.

Simonovis faced an unfair sentence and was in prison for 14 out of the 30 years that judge Marjorie Calderón set for him, just for defending us on April 11th, 2002. There’s no way to repay him the lost years, to compensate the humiliation, the torture, the barbarity. I celebrate that Simonovis escaped house arrest, he deserves to be free, just like the rest of the Metropolitan Police officers that remain in prison.

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