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Political prisoners and military repression in Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

London 01 Mar. 04 – Luis Guillermo Perez Amoros was sitting in a car with two others yesterday afternoon in the vicinity of Altamira Square in Caracas. Allegedly they were trying to oust the government or that’s what Venezuela’s regime would have you believe. It appears that they were part of a large group of people who have decided that having exhausted all constitutional, legal and democratic methods available to them the only way to claim their rights is to take to the streets to protest against Chavez.

A military cell patrolling the area arrested them; their crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Treason and conspiracy charges were made and they were taken to CORE 5, a military facility situated in El Paraiso west Caracas. During the night they were beaten by the National Guards and early this morning they have been moved to Fuerte Tiuna, main army base in Caracas. The regime of Hugo Chavez considers fitting for them to be judged by a martial court. For those not familiar with the concept of martial law here is the definition:

1 : the law applied in occupied territory by the military authority of the occupying power,

2 : the law administered by military forces that is invoked by a government in an emergency when the civilian law enforcement agencies are unable to maintain public order and safety

Quite rightly you might be wandering by now how do I know about all this? Simple, Luis Guillermo Perez Amoros is my wife’s uncle. Politicians and activists have been arrested since Friday in what constitutes clearly a gross violation of human rights evidencing, yet again, that Chavez’ regime is not intent in respecting the rights of those who disagree politically.

The late prostituted argument that there are not political prisoners in Venezuela is merely another casualty of the weekend’s repression activities executed by Venezuela’s army and the National Guard. Following there is a list of people that have been arrested in the last three days by the State. Due process has not been observed in any of the instances.

1) In Caracas: Luis Guillermo Perez Amoros*, Pedro Vasquez, Padre Dorando and Marcel Carvallo (the latter two were released last night).

2) In Lara: Lenin Mora, Antonio Noguera and Armando Sanchez.

3) In Nueva Esparta: Alexis Pereira, Luis Perez and William Lopez.

4) In Falcon: Crispulo Chavez, Isaac Zabala and Cesar Reyes.

It has to be borne in mind that the aforementioned are not the first political prisoners in the country. Since June 2002 nine dissidents have been prosecuted and incarcerated in Tachira state for having participated in a public demonstration against Governor Ronald Blanco La Cruz. Their names:

1) Elsy de Peña

2) Wilfrido Tovar

3) Jacobo Supelano

4) William Forero

5) Orlando Pantaleón

6) Saúl Lozano

7) Jorge Hinojosa

8) Omar Guillen

9) José Neira Celis

Curiously enough the State has utterly failed in investigating the events that led to the massacre of 21 civilians in April 11 2002. To this day, and is spite of recommendations made by international human rights agencies and governments, Hugo Chavez regime has not appointed a truth commission to investigate the killings. On the contrary a recently founded NGO –partisan with the government- has stated publicly that they will sue George Bush for having committed those crimes. The preposterousness of such a stance only reinforces the belief that justice is a rather difficult concept for chavistas to grasp. There is ample photographic evidence of violations done by the National Guard and the army during the last three days. For one, Art. 68 of the constitution explicitly prohibits the usage of tear gas and rubber bullets to control public demonstrations. Notwithstanding they have been tear-gassing and shooting people everywhere.

On a different note Hugo Chavez said yesterday that he is no Aristide, implying that he will not leave or bend to popular pressure. He also accused Bush et al of interfering in the country’s affairs expressing that should they continue with such practices he would stop oil supplies to the US and would seize American assets in Venezuela. Is that the conciliatory attitude that should be expected from the president of all Venezuelans?

*The name of the other man arrested will be posted.

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