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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

VenEconomy: Another of Chávez’s Prisoners

From the Editors of VenEconomy

While on Venezuela’s streets thousands of people fall victim to criminals, who act under the cloak of impunity and, now, censorship, it is becoming increasingly frequent for the prisons to take in fresh political prisoners.

There are already dozens of people doing time in prison simply for dissenting, one way or another, from Hugo Chávez’s Castro-communist regime, including some who militated with the commander in favor of the revolutionary cause, others who refused to give up their rights, and others who witnessed the President’s sobbing and moaning.

The excuses used to send them to prison are mixed, from alleged administrative corruption to the alleged commission of murder, despite the lack of any proof implicating them, to imaginary conspiracies to commit an assassination and treason.

The victims are an equally mixed bag. They include a judge of the Republic, María Lourdes Afuini, for having acted in accordance with the law in releasing -on the condition that he report periodically to the court- another victim of the government’s persecution, Eligio Cedeño, apparently against the President’s wishes to keep him, unconstitutionally, behind bars; three Metropolitan Police captains and six officers for having performed their duty in containing a band of violent individuals who were massacring demonstrators during the March on April 11, 2002; and a captain of the Venezuelan Armed Force, Otto Gebauer, sentenced because he was the person who guaranteed Chávez’s right to life after his resignation had been accepted following the events of April 2002.

A more recent case is that of Alejandro Peña Esclusa, who is in prison for strictly political reasons. His “sin” is that he has been criticizing Hugo Chávez for the past fifteen years or so, in other words since before Chávez became president.

Among other things, Peña Esclusa has been constantly denouncing Chávez’s close ties with the dictator Fidel Castro, the Sao Paulo Forum, the FARC, and whatever extreme-left guerrilla groups are operating in the Continent.

Peña Esclusa’s arrest came about as a result of a badly staged operetta starring the Salvadorian Francisco Chávez Abarca. Chávez Abarca was arrested on July 1 and then deported to Cuba, where he is charged with terrorism, but not before he implicated as many of Chávez’s enemies as he managed to remember in an assassination junket.

The fact of the matter is that, when they put Peña Esclusa in prison, they violated all his rights. When they raided his home, they did not respect due process and apparently planted “evidence” against him. He was handcuffed, arrested, and accused in front of the television cameras without first having been formally charged. Today he has already spent 38 days in the political prison at the Helicoide and has still not been charged. His case is now before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The saddest part about this case is that it has gone practically unremarked by the media and unnoticed by the general public. Could it be that Venezuelans are already becoming so accustomed to their rights being violated that they are no long surprised and do not even bother to protest?

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

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