Political Prisoners in Venezuela, Newsletter Nº 13

Ex-PM González sticking to plan to defend opposition leaders in Venezuela

Elpais.com
April 28, 2015

Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González confirmed on Tuesday that he will go ahead with his plans to travel to Caracas to join the defense teams of two jailed government opposition leaders, although he admitted that he could be stopped from entering the country by Venezuelan authorities.

In an interview with the Antena 3 television network, González said he is scheduled to be in Venezuela between May 17 and 20.

“But it is not impossible that they could stop me from defending them,” he said.

The former Socialist leader explained that local government authorities could keep him from entering Venezuela, prohibit him from meeting with opposition leader Leopoldo López in jail or even stop him from assisting during his ongoing closed-door trial. Read more

Venezuelan opposition prisoner Leopoldo Lopez now in solitary, wife says

Latino Fox News
April 25, 2015

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, jailed since February 2014, is being punished by not being allowed to received visits for the next three weeks, his wife Liliana Tintori said Saturday.

«Violating rights of @leopoldolopez; they tell me he will be in solitary confinement without visitors for 3 weeks,» the wife of the promoter of «La Salida» (The Way Out) wrote on Twitter, without giving further details.

The crusade launched by the opposition to President Nicolas Maduro during the first six months of 2014 left a total of 43 people dead, including activists for and against the government, passers-by and security agents, most of them from gunshot wounds. Read more

Arbitraries Detentions since Feb 4th, 2014

3718 detentions
43 jailed for protesting

Source: Foro Penal
April 28, 2015

Venezuela opposition mayor Ledezma out of jail for surgery

Reuters
April 25, 2015

Venezuelan opposition mayor Antonio Ledezma was out of jail and in a Caracas clinic on Saturday, awaiting an operation after being granted house arrest on medical grounds.

The 59-year-old politician – whose detention in February has become a cause célèbre for rights groups pressuring President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government – was to undergo surgery for a recurrence of a hernia, his wife and lawyers said.

He is then due to go home for recovery, though proceedings against him on conspiracy charges will continue.

The government says Ledezma was plotting with young radicals to overthrow Maduro. But supporters of the Caracas mayor say the allegations are trumped up and intended to weaken the opposition to distract Venezuelans from economic problems. Read more

Venezuelan Prosecutor Rules Spanish Ex-PM off Opposition Leader’s Courtcase

LatinAmerican Herald Tribune
April 28, 2015

Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez cannot be a part of the defense team for jailed opposition politicians Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma.

“It’s not possible for outsiders to come as technical advisers for a detainee’s defense. It’s not possible because it does not conform to the legal system,” declared Ortega in a radio program on Sunday.

Ortega’s warning contradicts the opinions of Lopez’s legal team and of Gonzalez himself who said Venezuela’s legal system permits him to act as adviser. Read more

Venezuelan Prison Guards “Violently” Raid López, Ceballos’s Cells

On Tuesday, April 21, a group of 13 “heavily armed men” violently searched the cell of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López on two occasions, without the presence of prosecutors or his defense lawyers, his wife, Lilian Tintori, confirmed via Twitter.

Tintori reported that while López was in court, guards at the Ramo Verde military jail also placed former San Cristobal Mayor Daniel Ceballos and current Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma in solitary confinement in order to “violently inspect” their cells.

López’s wife highlighted the risk that the guards could have left incriminating evidence in their cells, writing “the worst is not what they took — books and personal objects — but what they could have planted.” Read more

Journalist Jorge Ramos shined a light on Leopoldo Lopez and all Venezuelan political prisoners in a speech at the Time 100 Gala

The Accidental Face of Venezuela’s Opposition

The Atlantic
April 27, 2015

In 2003, Lilian Tintori was perhaps best known as the kite-surfing champion of Venezuela. She did a stint on a survival-themed reality show, lent her face to public-service billboards warning against drunk driving, and hosted radio and television shows. She was a celebrity in her home country, famed for her looks and charisma.

But since the arrest of her husband, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, during widespread protests against the government of Nicolas Maduro last year, she has become an entirely different kind of celebrity: the accidental face of Venezuela’s beleaguered and often divided democracy movement. Lopez remains locked up in Ramo Verde military prison, on the outskirts of Caracas, and the government is seeking to keep him imprisoned for 10 years on charges including arson and conspiracy. Read more

How to Fix the Mess in Venezuela

ALEJANDRO TOLEDO I nytimes.com
April 23, 2015

The recent news from Venezuela has been troubling — and also far from surprising. As the Venezuelan economy continues to struggle and inflation pushes many of the most basic everyday needs out of reach of ordinary working people, President Nicolás Maduro has responded, not with a plan, but with a crackdown. It has included arresting Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of Caracas, and other opposition figures on questionable charges — to say nothing of the jailings of peaceful protesters.

Mr. Maduro’s attempts to deflect criticism by pointing to aggression from the United States and international meddling — even if they were rooted in fact — would do nothing to solve Venezuela’s problems. If he were a serious leader, he would look first at the Venezuelan economy, which, in reality, is at least two economies, separate and far from equal. Read more

Venezuela Newsprint “Shortage” Spells Death for Independent Media

PanamPost
April 28, 2015

“The only newspapers who are complaining of paper shortages are the independent media. In Venezuela, the right to be informed is at stake,” says Carolina González, editor in chief of Venezuelan daily El Carabobeño.

Her outlet is on its last legs: paper stocks are enough to print one month more of coverage of the central region of Venezuela. When it runs out, over 1000 direct and indirect jobs will be at risk.

On Friday, April 24, El Carabobeño resorted to its paper reserves for the Sunday magazine to print the regular edition, as the last sheet of normal paper used to print the 81-year-old publication went on the presses. Read more

Press Association Decries Diosdado’s Lawsuit against Venezuelan Media

PanamPost
April 24, 2015

On Thursday, April 23, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) condemned the criminal and civil charges filed against various national media outlets by Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

Cabello filed charges on Tuesday against outlets that published articles in January regarding his former bodyguard, Leamsy Salazar, who allegedly defected to the United States in order to testify that his former boss runs a drug cartel of political and military officials. Read more

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