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Venezuela: Political prisoners of the Chávez era

By Pilar Diaz, from El Universal

Throughout the Venezuelan history, democracies and dictatorships have had political prisoners. With more than 200 detainees, the present regime is not an exception to that tradition. April 11, 2002, is a milestone in the history of Venezuela, not only because of the number of dead and injured people resulting from a political demonstration, but also because the image of the political prisoner reemerged.

Only eight Metropolitan Police officers are being prosecuted for the violence and deaths occurred under the infamous Llaguno Bridge that day, although television cameras showed images of civilians shooting from the pro-government side.

A growing list

Táchira state's Governor Captain Ronald Blanco La Cruz blamed eight citizens for the aggressions he suffered on April 12, 2002. Another eight people who were captured in the state in early March protests must be added to the list. And fifteen teenagers are in jail for the same reason there.

In Mérida state, 25 people have been accused of having attacked Governor Captain Florencio Porras in April 2002 and await trial. Another 30 are in conditional freedom after the events of early March this year.

In the western state of Zulia, 127 protesters were arrested during this month protests, of whom only 59 have fully recovered freedom. The rest have to go to a court every week.

In Yaracuy, there are eight political prisoners, while in Caracas there are 24, most of them accused of blocking streets and resisting the action of the authority.

This means a total of 202 persons imprisoned or sentenced to visit a court weekly, many of them teenagers. All of them have reported to have been tortured or threatened with death.

Translated by Edgardo Malaver

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