In Venezuela there are more than 400 people deprived of liberty for political reasons. Some have a release ticket, others remain subject to unjust criminal proceedings, while many who have precautionary liberty measures remain behind bars on orders of the regime that recognized the existence of political prisoners in the country by “pardoning” 110 persons.
The usurper regime singled them out and prosecuted them for the alleged crimes of treason, obstruction of justice, association to commit crimes, disobedience of laws, usurpation of functions, instigation of hatred, civil rebellion, and trafficking in arms and explosives, among many others. In addition, the persecuted had no right to a defense.
After the release of 110 political prisoners announced by the regime, which represents a joy for both the prisoners and their families, Humberto Prado, Human Rights Commissioner, emphasized that “none of these citizens should have been in prison for even one day since the majority of these detentions did not meet the parameters established by the Constitution for such practice, since they were not made pursuant to a court order, nor for the commission of a crime in flagrante delicto. Additionally, some of them have been in possession of a release certificate for some time, which allows us to affirm the arbitrary nature of their deprivation of liberty,” he said.
He added that “they were never tried nor sentenced and were persecuted without having committed any crime, so there is nothing to forgive them,” the Commissioner said.
Roberto Marrero, Gilber Caro, Renzo Prieto, Vasco Da Costa, Rubén González, Nicmer Evans and Demóstenes Quijada, among others, are some of the names whose releases were announced and executed on Monday, August 31st, while the majority of the 373 political prisoners of the regime remain in the various dungeons of the state security forces, paralyzed by the de facto government. Without visits from their lawyers, in poor sanitary conditions, without access to courts and waiting to be released and acquitted of crimes they did not commit.
Roberto Marrero, head of the office of the interim president, Juan Guaidó, was arrested on March 21st, 2019. Sebin officials broke down the door of his house and arbitrarily took him away. He was imprisoned for more than 500 days and was accused of being part of an alleged terrorist cell and of “planning a series of selective attacks,” with the help of hired “Colombian and Central American mercenaries”. A week later, the 1st Control Court, with jurisdiction over terrorism, issued a prison sentence and charged him with four crimes: concealment of arms and ammunition, money laundering, conspiracy and association to commit a crime.
Congressman Juan Requesens has been under house arrest since August 28th, 2020, after 752 days of arbitrary detention by Sebin officials at his residence for allegedly being involved in the an “attack” against Nicolás Maduro on August 4th, 2018, on Bolivar Avenue. Six days later, videos were published with the alleged confession of the deputy, disseminated by Maduro’s regime.
On August 14th of that year, the first hearing was held and he was charged with continuous public instigation, terrorism, financing of terrorism, association to commit a crime, aggravated manslauther with a degree of frustration, aggravated homicide with a degree of frustration and illegal possession of weapons and ammunition. The United Nations Group of Arbitrary Detentions declared this arrest to be arbitrary, considering that there is no evidence of the accusations and the arrest was made without any judicial order.
Gilber Caro, substitute deputy to the National Assembly, was arrested on December 20th, 2019, along with his assistant Victor Ugas, by officials of the Special Action Forces in La Florida housing development. He was accused of allegedly possessing explosives and was forcefully disappeared for almost a month along with Ugas. In January of this year, the prosecutor imposed by the regime, Tarek William Saab, reported that Caro was detained at the headquarters of the FAES. His assistant was released seven days later, but Caro continued to be detained.
His sister reiterated the denunciation of serious violations of his human rights. “He is sleeping under a ladder. A very small space, without a mattress, on some boards, without light and without being able to wash himself. This is a right that all people have,” she said, and recounted that she herself also suffered inhuman and degrading treatment during visits to the deputy.
Deputy Renzo Prieto was arrested by the FAES last March 8th, during a march to the parliament building called by the Interim President, Juan Guaidó, and was broken up by Nicolás Maduro’s security agencies. They were accused of financing terrorism and promoting hatred. After 120 days, his brother denounced the poor health of the parliamentarian.
For his part, Vasco Da Costa, a political scientist and member of a family that has always been an adversary of the regime and that has suffered the onslaught of its policies since 2004, was arrested for the first time on July 26th, 2014, by Sebin officials for allegedly being involved in “terrorist” acts. He served an unjust sentence of three and a half years, until he was released in 2017 on health grounds.
However, less than a year after the release of the also leader of the Nationalist Movement was again deprived of his liberty on April 16th, 2018, amidst allegations of illegal searches, arbitrary detention, torture and robbery by State security agencies. The most recent information on his case was that his sister, Ana Da Costa, denounced that he had a lump in his eye, for which he was held at the Military Hospital of Caracas.
Likewise, union leader Rubén González was charged with the crimes of insult against a sentry and the National Armed Forces. His relatives denounced the deterioration of his health and only 20 days ago the court martial that had his case had dismissed an appeal.
On November 29th, 2018, he was returning from a march in Caracas in defense of the collective bargaining agreements and the cessation of the persecution when he was arrested in a military check point in the town of Anaco, State of Anzoátegui, and sent to La Pica prison, in Monagas.
His daughter Yarudid González denounced that the unionist’s health condition was worsening and there was no medical attention in prison.
Nicmer Evans, political leader and political scientist, was accused of instigating hatred under the law promoted by the illegitimate constituent assembly. On July 18th a court ratified his imprisonment.
On July 13th, Evans denounced that officials from the General Direction of Military Counter-Intelligence and the Scientific Criminal and Criminalistic Investigation Corps arrived at his residence and harassed his wife and family. He explained that at that time they took away his lawyer and brother, Ángel Herrera, as a witnesses after showing an arrest warrant against Evans. They also raided his home.
An arrest warrant against him was signed by the 21st Control Court of the Caracas Metropolitan Area and he is accused of the alleged crimes of “promotion or incitement to hatred”. His wife had denounced that the defense attorneys had not been allowed to be sworn in, nor did they have access to the files.
Antonia Turbay, was arbitrarily detained on June 26th, 2019 and was linked to the escape of the political prisoner, Ivan Simonovis, simply because she was his neighbor. Furthermore, she had a writ to be released from prison since July 26th, 2019 but was held nevertheless.
In the same prison was detained, Enrique Perdomo, lawyer of Ivan Simonovis. He was accused of obstruction of justice and is deprived of his liberty. This occurred after he was arbitrarily detained by Sebin officials on Friday, June 14th, while he was at the family’s home.
Demosthenes Quijada, a political advisor and industrial engineer, was arrested in April 2020 after being accused of terrorism, criminal association, trafficking arms and explosives and drug concealment. He was held at the headquarters of the Dgcim in Boleíta, and despite the fact that he also has Spanish nationality, the diplomatic pressure exerted could do little to obtain his release.
José Alberto Marulanda, a Colombian-Venezuelan doctor, was detained for his alleged sentimental link with army sergeant Emmy Mirella Da Costa, who in turn was wanted for instigating hatred and treason. He was held in the military prison of Ramo Verde.
The worker and union leader of the University Clinical Hospital of Caracas, Wilman Rada, was taken away from his post for denouncing corruption within the hospital.
Isabel Zambrano, was accused of alleged corruption and of having denied medicines to patients of the Social Security hospital “Dr Patricinio Peñuela Ruiz”.
Wilmer Toro, a community leader, was arrested after protesting the lack of electricity and drinking water. His relatives reported that the security force that made the arrest was the Faes.
WAITING FOR THEIR FREEDOM
Dozens of political prisoners out of the 373 registered by the Human Rights Commission remain in the country’s prisons. This means that, only 22.77% were released under the figure of the makeshift “pardon,” while 77. 18% continue in jails, serving a sentence that has not been imposed and for a crime they are not guilty.
It should be noted that this list of those released does not include military prisoners, nor some ex-policemen illegally detained.
The main detention centers in which there are political detainees are Ramo Verde, in the state of Miranda, with 133 prisoners; the General Directorate of Military Counter-Intelligence (Dgcim), in Boleíta, with 101 prisoners and El Helicoide, in the Capital District, with 41 prisoners.
The Commission for Human Rights details that 358 of the detainees are men and 15 are women. Another 228 are political prisoners of a military nature and 144 are social activist prisoners.