José Luis Santamaría

Name: José Luis Santamaría

Arbitrarily detained: July 24, 2014

Place of confinement: Santa Ana Prison

Occupation: Electronics technician

José Luis was arrested in the context of the demonstrations that took place in the country throughout 2014. On July 24, 2014, he was approached at a Caracas hardware store by unidentified individuals, who asked him not to resist, because he was arrested.

The government alleged that he was going to carry out terrorist acts in Caracas, an accusation that was never corroborated. Although that crime was dismissed, José was charged with charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and illicit manufacture of explosives. His cause was linked to the political prisoners Efraín Ortega and Vasco Da Costa.

In his case, there were more than 20 audience deferrals. In addition to the procedural delay, the inhuman conditions inside El Rodeo II prison considerably affected his health. . “My brother has gastrointestinal problems, they have to filter the water with cotton or other means to make it acceptable, and they only allow us to bring him a 5-liter bottle a month when we do the family visit,” his sister complained.

The isolation and mistreatment against him made his family fear for his life. Despite suffering from hypertension and diabetes, the court denied him the right to medical services. He suffered and witnessed acts of torture inside the prison that deteriorated his physical and emotional health.

Again behind bars

José Luis was released on October 6, 2017, along with Efraín and Vasco. Upon being released, Ana Maria Da Costa, Vasco’s sister, lamented: “Three years in hell never recover”. However, on April 16, 2018, hell returned for him: that day, José Luis disappeared.

His family stayed four days without knowing his whereabouts, until April 20 they found him in the dungeons of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (Dgcim). That same day, Santamaría was transferred to the military annex of the Santa Ana prison.

“They were tortured before, during and after the arrest,” their relatives said. On May 27, during a visit, it was corroborated that they had suffered torture. The allegations of torture were presented in the Táchira State Prosecutor’s Office 20.

In this new opportunity, Santamaría is linked to the former murdered Cicpc inspector, Oscar Pérez, for joining the group Gedeon 2 and having gone to the cemetery on the day in which the official and his group were buried. Minister Néstor Reverol accused him of “participating in acts of destabilization and having tons of ammunition in his possession”, a complaint without evidence.

Although the record lacks evidence, José Luis is charged with the crimes of military rebellion, instigation of rebellion, treason against the homeland, theft of elements from the National Armed Forces and outrage against the sentry, all military crimes.

Despite having returned to prison and having suffered years of torture, the relatives remain firm: “They will not sign any document to be released, as has already been done by another group of political prisoners.” José Luis refuses to go before the Truth Commission if he is released.

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