Political Prisoners in Venezuela, Newsletter Nº 18

Sign the Petition to Support Leopoldo López and Other Hunger Strike Participants

June 8, 2015

Leopoldo’s sisters, Adriana López Vermut and Diana López, released a petition today appealing to international organizations, including the Organization of American States and UNASUR to intercede for the human rights of Venezuelan political prisoners.

The petition specifically calls for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to be able to enter the cells of the Venezuelan political prisoners and ensure they receive appropriate treatment. They also visit the locations where there are detainees holding a hunger strike to verify that their treatment is appropriate and that they are receiving proper medical attention.

Click here to sign the petition and thank you for your continued support: http://chn.ge/1FMmJRw

Ex-PM Felipe González leaves Venezuela after just two days

June 9, 2015

Felipe González, the former prime minister of Spain, has left Venezuela barely two days after his arrival, given that the government of the South American country has refused to grant him permission to visit imprisoned opposition politician Leopoldo López in the Ramo Verde jail.

The veteran Socialist politician, who was in power from 1982 to 1996, was also stopped by the Venezuelan authorities from attending López’s scheduled court hearing on Wednesday.

González had traveled to the country with the aim of providing legal support to López and other opposition politicians, such as Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who is under house arrest having been accused of forming part of a coup plot. Read more

Arbitraries Detentions since Feb 4th, 2014

3765 detentions
31 jailed for protesting

Source: Foro Penal
June 9, 2015

Hunger Strike for Venezuela’s Liberation Echoes Worldwide

June 8, 2015

Two Venezuelan councilmen are walking the talk of solidarity and have joined the hunger strike launched by political prisoners Leopoldo López and Daniel Ceballos. They made the announcement on Friday, May 5, in the Vatican.

Martín Paz and José Vicente García, two San Cristóbal councilmen from Táchira state, decided to join the strike ahead of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s meeting with Pope Francis on Sunday. However, Maduro canceled the trip to Rome, alleging a flu and otitis infection.

This announcement swells the number of Venezuelans on hunger strike to 23: four jailed opposition leaders, one congressman, two councilmen, and 16 college students who are demanding that the Venezuelan government set a date for the legislative elections, allow international observers in, and free all political prisoners. Read more


Venezuelan President Maduro Cancels Visit With Pope Francis

June 06, 2015

President Nicolás Maduro on Saturday canceled a trip to Rome that would have included an audience with Pope Francis.

There have been mounting calls for the South American government to release political prisoners and improve its human rights record, but Mr. Maduro on state television said he is battling an ear infection and doctors advised him not to travel.

The president, who was supposed to take part in a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization conference, said he would send Vice President Jorge Arreaza instead.

Mr. Maduro added that he will try to reschedule his meeting with Pope Francis, which was supposed to take place Sunday. Read more

Venezuela’s Legacy of Producing Liberators Persists

JORGE «TUTO» QUIROGA I The HuffingtonPost
June 5, 2015

Venezuela is a magical country.

It gave birth to the greatest South American ever, the liberator of five nations, Simón Bolívar.

It is endowed with one of the largest oil reserves, some of the most productive land and many of the most talented people in the planet.

It is known to many around the world for its beauty queens, outstanding baseball players and amazing musicians.

It is less well known for having harbored many South Americans in the turbulent political decades of the 1970s and ’80s, when it became the democratic haven for many exiles in the region. Venezuelan Presidents were then civilians wearing suit and tie, surrounded by regional military strongmen. History would take a strange turn. Read more

OHCHR press briefing on the situation of Mr. Daniel Ceballos

June 03, 2015

We are very concerned about the conditions of detention and the deteriorating health of Daniel Ceballos, former mayor of Tachira State in Venezuela, who has been detained since March 2014 on charges related to his role in the anti-Government protests last year. Ceballos, along with three other detainees, has been on hunger strike since 22 May. We urge the authorities to ensure that all the detainees on hunger strike have access to medical attention with a doctor of their choice. Access to their families and lawyers must also be ensured.

The day after Ceballos began his hunger strike, we understand he was transferred to a general population prison outside Caracas – outside the jurisdiction in which he is being tried – without the knowledge of his family or lawyer. There are serious issues with the conditions of his detention. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in August last year that his detention was arbitrary. Read more

Latin American leftists must hold friends in Caracas to account

June 9, 2015

Gabriela Montero is a celebrated pianist with a sad smile. A prodigy, she gave her first public concert aged eight. Unusually for a classical musician, she is also a political activist.

Last month, the 45 year-old Venezuelan performed in honour of Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei. She also released a recording of her composition “Ex-Patria”, a dissonant 15-minute musical portrait of her native land. Read more

Former Spanish PM’s visit gives boost to Venezuela’s opposition

Irish Times
June 9, 2015

Former Spanish prime minister Felipe González has made a short visit to Venezuela to offer support to two jailed politicians in a move which has heartened the country’s opposition and enraged its government.

Mr González, who led Spain’s Socialist Party government between 1982 and 1996, arrived in Caracas on Sunday to meet lawyers and relatives of the city’s mayor, Antonio Ledezma, and former Chacao mayor Leopoldo López. Read more

Venezuela Catholics Step Up Pressure on Maduro Ahead of Papal Audience

June 5, 2015

The Catholic Church in Venezuela is stepping up its criticism of President Nicolás Maduro’s leftist government and calling for him to release political prisoners, schedule congressional elections and improve human rights ahead of his meeting Sunday with Pope Francis.

Mr. Maduro, in Rome for a United Nations event, is expected to have a 30-minute meeting as well with the pope, who is being pressured by rights groups, government opponents and his own prelates in Venezuela to raise questions about human rights with the leftist leader. Read more

Jailed mayors’ hunger strike rallies Venezuelan opposition

June 1, 2015

A hunger strike by two high-profile imprisoned politicians is generating excitement among members of a Venezuelan opposition that has seemed mostly disengaged since 2014’s fiery protests.

Seven students have even spent the past week camped out in the dusty front yard of a Caracas church drinking nothing but water and Pedialyte in sympathy with jailed former mayors Leopoldo Lopez and Daniel Ceballos, who announced their hunger strike on May 23. Read more

Club de Madrid statement on Venezuela

Club de Madrid
May 28, 2015

The Club de Madrid, in a statement signed by its President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, urgently calls on the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela once again to put an end to this dramatic situation and remove the barriers that are hindering the country’s democratic progress

The Club de Madrid asks the EU, OAS and UNASUR to commit to ensuring transparent elections, freedom of the press and the release of political prisoners in Venezuela. Read more

Fight intensifies between Maduro and opposition over political prisoners

June 1, 2015

Thousands took to the streets of Venezuela’s major cities on Saturday to demand the immediate release of the country’s political prisoners.

With many dressed in white to symbolize the non-violent nature of their protest, demonstrators answered last weekend’s call by one of the highest-profile jailed leaders, Leopoldo López, to pour out on to the streets of Caracas and other large cities, despite the fact that the opposition’s umbrella coalition had failed to back his move. Read more

Venezuela blocks Latam ex-presidents from seeing detained leaders

May 29, 2015

Venezuela blocked two former Latin American presidents on Friday from visiting opposition leaders jailed a year ago for their roles in deadly protests against the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Andres Pastrana of Colombia and Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, both political conservatives, were not allowed to meet opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and former mayor Daniel Ceballos.

«This is the second time they did not let us through … but we will be here again,» Pastrana told reporters, referring to a prior visit in January when he attempted to see Lopez. Read more

IACHR Expresses Concern over Measures Taken against Leopoldo López and Daniel Ceballos in Venezuela

May 29, 2015

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over measures that have been taken in recent days with regard to Daniel Ceballos and Leopoldo López, who are deprived of their liberty in Venezuela. They are beneficiaries of Precautionary Measure 335/14, granted by the IACHR on April 20, 2015.

According to publicly available information Daniel Ceballos was transferred in the early morning hours of May 23, 2015, from the “Ramo Verde” National Center for Military Defendants (CENAPROMIL) to a regular prison located in San Juan de los Morros, about 150 kilometers from Caracas. Read more

Rayma Makes Leopoldo López’s Plight Known to the World

Panam Post
May 18, 2015

Speakers came from near and far for this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum, to raise their voices against totalitarianism, support human rights, and demand the release of political prisoners throughout the world, including Venezuelan Leopoldo López.

Twenty countries in all were featured at the seventh annual event, on May 26-27, which had the theme of “Living in Truth.” Case studies and life experiences sent the message that even common citizens can ignite the spark that leads to the toppling of authoritarian regimes. Read more


Irwin Cotler Statement on Situation in Venezuela

May 29, 2015

I have noted with great concern the rapidly deteriorating situation in Venezuela and am closely monitoring the courageous hunger strike undertaken by my pro bono client and Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos, and numerous other political prisoners. Indeed, this pivotal moment in Venezuela’s history reminds me very much of the resolve demonstrated by two former political prisoners such as Anatoly Sharansky in the former Soviet Union and Nelson Mandela in South Africa who challenged their oppressor governments through actions like these from within their own cells. Read more