'There’s no Justice in Venezuela!'

The case of Rafael Acosta Arévalo has shaken Venezuelans and the international community. A 16-year-old protester lost his eyes in Tachira, after he was shot with pellets at a close range. Deputy Juan Requenses had his preliminary hearing after an 8-hour delay.

Photo: Panorama retrieved

The death of captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo under state custody after being accused of conspiring against Nicolás sparked global uproar. The captain died on Saturday, his preliminary hearing in the military court was never held due to his health condition caused by torture: “He was tortured to death,” his widow Waleska Pérez said yesterday to Colombia’s WRadio, demanding that his body be returned to her. “There’s no justice in Venezuela… we’re in a dictatorship,” added Pérez, who requested international support for an independent forensic examination to determine the real cause of his death.

Manslaughter with intent

The Prosecutor’s Office requested preventive imprisonment for two National Guard officials, said ANC-imposed Prosecutor General Tarek William Saab through his Twitter account. Lieutenant Ascanio Tarascio Mejía (23) and 2nd sergeant Estiben Zárate Soto (22), are the alleged culprits for the death of captain Acosta Arévalo, both assigned to the Military Counterintelligence Directorate (DGCIM). They were indicted with the crime of manslaughter with intent, agreed by the 36th First Instance Court of Control of the Metropolitan Area of Caracas. Saab cautioned that “in the following phases of the criminal process [he] will keep collecting evidence to obtain all the elements of conviction.”

An unacceptable charge

The death of dissidents isn’t unusual in Venezuela, but the “volume” of the consternation caused by this case made the regime announce the investigation of the causes. In other cases, they’ve only denied deaths, they’ve said they were “suicides”, building up a wretched history of complaints ignored with impunity. This time, the Prosecutor’s Office is trying to play down the crime and (significantly) reduce the culprits’ sentence, because in manslaughter, the victimizer only has the intent of injuring, but the result is death. For example; you hit someone, and that person falls, hits his head on the edge of the sidewalk and dies. If they add the gem of “with intent,” it assumes that the action executed by the culprit wasn’t enough to produce the result (death); but rather, that it’s a product of unknown pre-existent circumstances of unforeseen causes. And thus, they pull torture out of the equation and with that, they stop the application of the law to prevent and sanction torture.

Other details

Torturing captain Acosta Arévalo to the point of compromising his physical condition and even then, taking him to a court for his preliminary hearing, proves that his death didn’t happen due to pre-existing circumstances or unforeseen causes. He was tortured to death, under state custody. The Prosecutor’s Office omitted this condition from the case, just like they ignored the previous complaints of torture at the hands of DGCIM agents; they ignored how these complaints form a pattern and minimized the state’s responsibility for the captain’s life. For PROVEA: “They seek to apply the lowest possible sentence to alleged material authors of the murder (…) they avoid indicting the masterminds (…) they’re favoring the practice of torture in Venezuela.” Control Ciudadano director Rocío San Miguel says: “In the DGCIM, the world must know, absolutely nothing’s done without obeying and submitting to political and military leadership.”

Make the comparison

Yesterday, deputy Juan Requesens, whom the regime linked to the alleged failed coup on August 4th, 2018, finally had his preliminary hearing after an 8-hour delay. Joel García, his lawyer, said that Requesens is accused of “frustrated premeditated homicide,” a crime in which the person has the intention of killing someone acting treacherously and certain of his safety. 

García compared the indictment against the alleged culprits of the captain’s death and that of the deputy’s, saying that our “justice” system is shameful and explaining: “Strictly speaking, no judge can sentence Juan Requesens, if he’s prosecuted, it’s because of a political order.”

The High Commisioner’s commotion

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations’ main human rights official, said she was shocked by the captain’s death: “I’m shocked by the alleged torture of captain Acosta Arévalo, and because the treatment he suffered while in custody might have been the cause of his death,” she said in a statement. Bachelet demands “swift, exhaustive, efficient, independent, impartial and transparent” investigation about this death, adding that it might also constitute an enforced disappearance (forbidden by international law) and demanding torture charges to be included. Next Friday, Bachelet will publish a report about human rights in Venezuela.

Other statements

The European Union and the largest Latin American nations condemned the death of captain Acosta Arévalo and demanded an investigation. Even Mexico issued an uncommon statement, expressing concern for human rights violations and the lack of procedural guarantees in Venezuela. The former presidents of the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA) urged international governments and courts to act against torture and death in Venezuela. The German and French governments also condemned the death and demanded an independent investigation to clarify this case as soon as possible.

The U.S. thesis

According to The Wall Street Journal, for the Trump Administration, the death of Acosta Arévalo is the regime’s bet to keep soldiers at bay with fear. Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela, said: “This is a particularly brutal incident,” adding that “it is very difficult for [the opposition] to agree to sit across the table from a regime that is torturing and killing Venezuelan military officers in this way.” Meanwhile, Ambassador John Bolton asked the international community to rally together “to hold the illegitimate Maduro regime accountable (…) for its continued use of violence, repression, and torture tactics,” saying that these actions prove that there can be no good faith dialogue with Maduro, “who will use it as a stalling tactic to retain control. There is no viable solution for Venezuela while Maduro remains in power,” he added.


A 16-year-old teenager lost his eyes after police officers shot him with pellets in the face for joining a protest for gas shortages in Tariba, Tachira State. Journalist Lorena Bornacelly said: “People had gas canisters with them and the officers still fired pellets (…) At least three other people were wounded and chose to go back home for fear of being detained if they went to a hospital.” 

Rufo Velandria was trending on Twitter because the police left him without eyes. It’s another crime against humanity. Chavismo is a string of abominations.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.