Newsletter N°118, Political Prisoners in Venezuela

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Message from OAS Secretary General on Venezuela

PRESS RELEASE I oas.org
May 16, 2017

The instruments of the Inter-American system oblige us to cooperate, but never to negotiate democracy, especially when we risk new tragedies with every day that passes, a family further torn apart and an ever greater violation of the guarantees of the people. Venezuela is experiencing a serious social and political crisis that is a product of the damage done to the institutions of the country.

We have demanded from the international community, the hemispheric community and the Venezuelan government an end to the violence and repression, the freeing of political prisoners, the opening of a humanitarian channel to meet the basic needs of its people and for the return of democracy by the only possible and sovereign manner: a call for early general elections.

The institutional crisis can be resolved with institutional answers that return democracy to the country and restore the political rights of the people. Read more

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EU Urges End to Venezuela Violence Against Protesters

AFP I nytimes.com
May 15, 2017

The European Union is urging Venezuelan authorities to halt the use of violence against peaceful anti-government protesters and says it stands ready to help the country through its political crisis.

EU foreign ministers said in a statement Monday that «violence and the use of force will not resolve the crisis in the country.»

They said people’s rights «must be respected, including the right to peacefully demonstrate. It is crucial that all parties refrain from violent acts.»Read more

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Joint Statement by the Venezuelan Penal Forum and Human Rights Watch

PENAL FORUM AND HRW I hrw.org
May 15, 2017

As of May 15, the Venezuelan Penal Forum has obtained information regarding the prosecution of at least 275 civilians by military courts in Venezuela. In all these cases, the Venezuelan Penal Forum has directly assisted detainees or verified information regarding the prosecutions through direct contact with family members. Human Rights Watch interviewed several of the lawyers representing detainees. The cases include the prosecution of 192 civilians in Carabobo state, 19 in Falcon state, 20 in Zulia state, 18 in Caracas, 13 in Lara state, 10 in Sucre state, two in Barinas state, and one in Táchira state. 159 of these defendants were in pretrial detention as of May 12. Detainees are being held in military prisons, prisons for detainees subject to military prosecution, high-security prisons, or in headquarters of the intelligence services.

While no public record of these proceedings is available—a problem in its own right—the accounts by lawyers and family members include many disturbing allegations of abuses and procedural defects in the conduct of these prosecutions, including the following:Read more

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Venezuela Tries Protesters in Military Court ‘Like We Are in a War’

NICHOLAS CASEY I nytimes.com
May 12, 2017

After six hard-fought weeks in the streets, a standoff between anti-government protesters and security forces is growing scarier and more lethal.

To protect themselves, demonstrators here in the Venezuelan capital and in other cities have started outfitting themselves in homemade armor and other improvised combat gear.

Along with conventional gas masks and helmets (many of them donated), colorful wooden shields are showing up on the front lines of the battles with National Guard troops. While most of the protesters have remained nonviolent, hooded militants have tossed molotov cocktails and launched rocks with slingshots. Read more

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UN Security Council to discuss Venezuela crisis

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS I news.mb.com.ph
May 17, 2017

The UN Security Council will discuss Wednesday the crisis in Venezuela, where at least 42 people have died in weeks of unrest, diplomats said.

The United States requested the closed-door talks to be held in the morning, following meetings on Somalia and Eritrea.

Opposition demonstrators have held daily protests since April 1, angry at what they see as moves to strengthen elected socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s hold on power. Read more

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The mask in Venezuela and the pathos of protest art

VINSON CUNNINGHAM I newyorker.com
May 13, 2017

Things in Venezuela are grim, and daily dissolving. Protests against the populist-turned-authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro have closed highways and public squares; the streets are blurry with smoke and lit by occasional bursts of flame. Images of the opposition movement keep rolling in across the wires.

As we in the United States have lately had occasion to remember, humor is often intrinsic to political protest—funny signs and chants, illustrations and effigies of the leader under scorn. Style, of a kind, too: in our current domestic clashes, the bright pink pussyhat faces off against the white-on-red “Make America Great Again” cap. Masks have taken on a similar function in Venezuela’s ongoing upheaval, albeit for more practical reasons. The police, under Maduro’s command, have used tear gas, along with rubber bullets and buckshot, to beat back the opposition on the streets. Read more

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Venezuelan Regime Steps up Torture against Protesters, Forces Them to Eat Excrement

KARINA MARTIN I panampost.com
May 16, 2017

Venezuelan regime steps up torture: The Venezuelan security forces have increasingly detained and arrested innocent protesters in the latest wave of demonstrations against Nicolás Maduro’s regime, which began 46 days ago.

The Chavista government has also stepped up its use of torture against members of the opposition. Human rights activists have registered numerous acts in which the police and military have violated international standards again, for instance obtaining confessions through the use of force and prosecuting civilians in military courts.

Luis Betancourt, head of Foro Penal, an NGO based in the city of Carabobo, reported that he has received “many complaints” from victims of government officials’ “brutal treatment.” Read more

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Venezuela death toll rises to at least 42

REUTERS I reuters.com
May 16, 2017

The death toll in Venezuela’s six-week wave of anti-government unrest has risen to at least 42, according to the state prosecutor’s office, which announced three deaths on Tuesday.

A policeman was arrested for his alleged role in the killing of a 33-year-old taxi driver, shot in the thorax, in the border state of Tachira. A 17-year-old who was shot in the head during a protest in the central state of Barinas on Monday and died on Tuesday morning.

«A group of people arrived and started shooting, injuring the young person in the brain,» the state prosecutor’s office said on the death of the unnamed teenager.Read more

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