Newsletter N°115, Political Prisoners in Venezuela

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IACHR Deeply Concerned about the Worsening Violence in Venezuela and the Use of Military Courts to Prosecute Civilians

PRESS RELEASE I oas.org
May 26, 2017

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern regarding the prosecution and detention of civilians in the military criminal justice system and the use of military operations to control public demonstrations in Venezuela.

The IACHR has closely followed the situation of massive protests in Venezuela since these began some eight weeks ago. The Commission has already expressed its grave concern regarding the acts of violence and its alarm over the militarization and the government’s call to arm civilian militias. Regrettably, the situation continues to worsen, and the number of people killed, injured, and detained continues to increase.

According to information presented publicly by the Attorney General of Venezuela, records of the Public Prosecutor’s Office indicate that between April 6 and May 24, 55 people died in acts of violence, 52 of them civilians and 3 officers. Read more

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Venezuela Prosecutor Chides Government Over Military Tribunals

EYANIR CHINEA AND ALEXANDRA ULMER I
reuters.com
May 24, 2017

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor on Wednesday accused security officers of excessive force and condemned the use of military tribunals to judge protesters, deepening her split with President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

After nearly two months of massive anti-government rallies demanding early presidential elections, fissures have appeared in the hitherto publicly homogenous socialist administration.

In a speech on Wednesday, prosecutor Luisa Ortega said 55 people had been killed in unrest, around 1,000 others injured, and 346 properties burned or looted as chaos flares across the oil-rich country that is reeling from an economic crisis. Read more

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He played on amidst the chaos of protests – until cops broke his violin

JULIAN JONES I cnn.com
May 30, 2017

He had become an icon, the violinist who played on as protesters and police clashed around him.

But on Wednesday, the music stopped.

Wuilly Arteaga says the National Guard took his violin from him and handed it back — in pieces.

«I was playing in the middle of the protest when National Guard vehicles approached us and one of the guards grabbed my violin by the strings,» Arteaga told Colombian news channel NTN 24. «I didn’t let go, and was dragged from the motorcycle through the whole street.» «At some point, I let go of the violin, because I couldn’t [hold on] anymore.» Read more

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State of run

ANDREW KATZ I time.com
May 28, 2017

The latest wave of demonstrations offers President Nicolás Maduro his biggest test since he assumed power four years ago, after the death of his mentor Hugo Chávez. Venezuela has experienced a slow-burn collapse of epic proportions, all while sitting atop the world’s largest known oil reserves. Once the continent’s largest economy, it can no longer feed its own people. Once a destination for medical tourists, its hospitals can barely treat basic illnesses. Mass gatherings against the government are frequent; dozens of protesters have been killed in recent weeks, further igniting a population that is starving and exhausted.

Venezuela also was once a hub for photographers but in recent years, as democracy has frayed, it has tightened. Meridith Kohut, a contributor to The New York Times, has lived there for years and continues to build one of the industry’s strongest portfolios of the crisis. Read more

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Venezuela Opposition Accuses Goldman Sachs of Financing Dictatorship

REUTERS I nytimes.com
May 29, 2017

The president of Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress on Monday accused Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs of «aiding and abetting the country’s dictatorial regime» following a report that it had bought $2.8 billion in bonds from the cash-strapped country.

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday said Goldman paid 31 cents on the dollar for bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA that mature in 2022, or around $865 million, citing five people familiar with the transaction.

That comes as two months of opposition protests against President Nicolas Maduro have killed almost 60 people and the collapse of the country’s socialist economy has left millions of people struggling to eat. Read more

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Day 60 of Protests in Venezuela: Tear Gas Breaks Up Opposition March against Killings, Repression

MAX RADWIN I panampost.com
May 30, 2017

Venezuela’s student movement and political opposition marched to the country’s Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace in Caracas this Tuesday, May 30 in protest of increasing repression by President Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship and the State Security Forces he has ordered to defend it.

The country’s main political opposition party, The Democratic Unity Roundtable, originally announced a march to the capital city’s various embassies and consulates, but the plan was canceled after word spread that there would be an attack by government forces to attack all international organizations and entities.

The political opposition decided, instead, to join the student protest. Read more

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Nearly 3,000 arrests in Venezuela unrest: NGO

AFP I yahoo.com
May 30, 2017

Venezuelan police have arrested nearly 3,000 people in the two months since a wave of anti-government protests erupted, a judicial campaign group said on Tuesday.

President Nicolas Maduro’s opponents accuse him of repressing protesters who are calling for elections to remove him from office. He accuses them of plotting a coup against him.

Foro Penal (the Criminal Justice Forum) has counted 2,977 people arrested during the deadly unrest, of whom 1,351 are still in detention, director Alfredo Romero told a news conference.

Of those, 197 have been jailed after being sentenced by military courts, said a lawyer working for the group, Alonso Medina.

«This is a situation that occurs under dictatorial regimes,» Medina said. Read More

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Venezuela Needs International Intervention. Now.

JARED GENSER I nytimes.com
May 30, 2017

The huge protests rocking Venezuela, which began in early April, were triggered by a decision of its Supreme Court to assume the powers of Venezuela’s National Assembly in violation of the country’s Constitution. In response, President Nicolás Maduro has responded with an iron fist. More than 50 people have been killed, 1,000 injured, and 2,700 arrested, and that last figure doesn’t include the country’s more than 180 long-term political prisoners. The Organization of American States is considering action against Venezuela under its Democratic Charter for Mr. Maduro’s brazen transition to authoritarian rule.

But the international community also has a responsibility to protect the people of Venezuela and to respond urgently to its economic and humanitarian crisis. Read more

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