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Rule of law in Venezuela

By Veneconomy

26.11.04 | For 40 years, Venezuela struggled to make of its police force a technical, professional team of specialists and with some success. This process of improving the system for administering Venezuelan justice culminated in the passing of the Basic Criminal Procedures Code, which guaranteed citizens’ rights, among them the presumption of innocence and an impartial and transparent process, while affirming freedom and respect for human dignity.

In the past six years, these hard-won achievements have been eroded. A technified system and the defense of human rights seem to be things of the past, as demonstrated by the events of this week.

First there was the, apparently, forced disappearance of Juan Guevara. According to unbelievable statements by Prosecutor General Isaías Rodríguez, Guevara is being “questioned but he is not detained.” Meanwhile, his family has had no news of him for more than a week.

Then there is the case of General Silvino Bustillos, who has been missing for four weeks now. The last time he was seen he was being accompanied by members of the National Guard.

Even more serious is what happened to the lawyer Antonio López Castillo, who was pursued and shot down in the street by individuals who were not wearing clothing or driving vehicles identifying them as members of any police force. And to make matters worse, the home of López Castillo’s parents, former deputy and former Finance Minister Haidée Castillo de López and Dr. Antonio López Acosta, was raided by individuals carrying no identification whatsoever, wearing ski masks, and with no warrant, according to statements given to the press by the López’ lawyers. Dr. López and his wife were treated with brutality and a total lack of consideration, detained for more than 48 hours incommunicado, and prevented from attending their son’s funeral.

Supposedly the Rule of Law exists in Venezuela and there are laws and a Constitution. When laws are not respected, that is a tragedy for all.

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