Bachelet and the end of impunity
First of all, I would like to thank the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former president Michelle Bachelet, for having visited our country and for having received the reports of human rights violations: cases of persecution, exile, imprisonment, kidnapping, and torture for political reasons, as well as cases of deaths resulting from political violence, and, very particularly, I would like to thank her for having met and listened to the wives and relatives of PDVSA workers and military officers that have been kidnapped by the government.
It is the first time in 20 years that the intervention of the United Nations system in the matter of Human Rights in the country is required; and, for the first time, her visit renders visible and recognizes a fact that has been silenced as a result of political intolerance: maduro’s government persecutes, exiles, imprisons, kidnaps, mistreats, and tortures, with special viciousness, the Chavistas, including myself, that are against his government, whether they are politicians, workers, military or former ministers.
Bachelet’s visit reveals a great hidden truth in our country, which is that this government, that is neither Chavista and much less revolutionary, has imposed fear and repression on the Chavista sector, which is supposed to be the vanguard and conscience of the revolution: the psuv, the workers, the popular movement, and the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, the only force capable of removing him from power, so to keep it demobilized and paralyzed out of fear.
The madurismo knows well that only the Chavismo will be able to put an end to this disaster. He fears it more than anything else and that is the reason why it acts with particular violence, repressing our leaders, workers, and militants to keep them quiet and demobilized.
The madurismo time is over. The situation is untenable, politically, economically, and socially. Societies do not commit suicide. The fall or removal from power of maduro and the madurismo is just a matter of time. Unfortunately, and to the same extent the madurismo has shut down every constitutional and political option, it seems that it will end up being a violent, bloody action that may come from the left or right.
Sooner than later, when the madurismo is least expecting it, a political force or commotion will burst into the situation, putting an end to such tyrannical government.
Hopefully, maduro’s removal from power happens by the hand of the Chavismo and the Bolivarian sector, under the leadership of an inclusive Patriotic Government Junta; otherwise, its removal will be through a coup coming from the extreme right, taking over power to unleash intolerance and hatred, handing over whatever is left of the country to the transnational capital, openly and definitely abdicating our sovereignty. Against this backdrop, our country will inevitably enter a long period of ungovernability, with the Chavismo taking the streets and the impossibility of achieving the necessary unity to rebuild the country.
It seems like the only way of having a pacific outcome would be if the international contending factors force an understanding among the parties. Washington and Moscow are reaching agreements on Venezuela which have allowed international facilitation to advance in that direction, as it has been evidenced by the diplomatic efforts promoted by Norway, in Oslo, and by the group of friends led by Sweden, Italy, Uruguay, Mexico, among others. All of these options are underway, but, unfortunately behind the country’s back.
The most dangerous of these is the violent removal or foreign intervention encouraged and promoted by the extreme right, whose leaders are convinced, and so they have promised their funders, that they will take power. They do not cease their efforts and are willing to do anything. Hence my reiterated calls to the patriotic and Chavista forces, especially the military, to not act in a desperate way, joining the extreme right in whatever adventure comes to their minds.
It is not about ousting maduro to hand over the power to the rancid oligarchy, enemies of what has been built with so much effort, enshrined in our Constitution, and the historic objectives of the Homeland Plan.
It is about installing a Patriotic Government Junta to restore popular sovereignty. A Junta that includes the national and patriotic sectors that are committed to the Constitution, with the Bolivarian Armed Forces as guarantor to lead the country for a period of no more than two years, in a process to reestablish the legitimacy of all powers of State, address the humanitarian, social, and economic crisis, and restore the political guarantees and full liberties. It is a collective effort to include everyone, the millions who have left the country, consult the people through the universal and secret vote, in a referendum and elections of all bodies of popular election and, in this way, begin to recover the governability and normalcy in the country.
Bachelet’s visit has been an achievement of the families, organizations, and sectors, including myself, that have taken actions to denounce the human rights violations in the country and it must be embedded in the ongoing process which promises a change in the political situation.
Without the public opinion awareness, the madurismo is making compromises and fulfilling demands of the same international factors that have sustained them, but since their own interests are on the edge of the abyss, they have distanced themselves or have reached agreements bypassing maduro.
The government is divided and the group that has taken the lead, headed by maduro himself, is giving way, making concessions because they are neck deep in the water, because despite them standing on the shoulders of the Venezuelan people, they know very well that their position is unsustainable. This group is now trying to wash their hands, in the economic and political sphere, ceding the Essequibo to Exxon Mobil, issuing belatedly and hastily BCV figures, signing oil, gas, and gold concessions, and surrendering all the assets of the State, of the Republic, they can while negotiating their way out. The other group, which will be subject of the negotiation, continues to make grotesque leaps beating the drums of war.
The government tries to manipulate and take advantage of Bachelet’s visit. It has made a commitment with the High Commissioner, according to what she has said, to “carry out an evaluation of the National Commission on Torture Prevention and another study to determine the main obstacles to accessing the justice system in the country”. At the same time, it committed with the UN team to have “access to detention centers and to speak in confidence with the inmates”, among other promises.
In an effort to help the reduced team of the High Commissioner that was authorized to remain in the country, we could indicate the following actions so the government begins to fulfill its pledges and cease from its characteristic impunity:
- Proof of life and compilation of information of all those kidnapped in detention centers, including PDVSA workers and FANB members. Determine their location.
• Certification by the team of the High Commissioner of the list of political, civilian and military prisoners, PDVSA workers, FANB members.
• Proof of life of Major General Rodríguez Torres and General Raúl Baduel.
• Recognize as political prisoners of those kidnapped by maduro for political reasons and raids and institutions and public companies, such as PDVSA, Corpoelec, and Ferrominera, among others.
• Require that all prisoners in the aforementioned prisons are included in the censuses and considerations set forth in this document, thus avoiding that under the name of “common prisoners” and accusations of “corruption” or “betrayal”, the political character of their seclusion is distorted. Such is the case of PDVSA workers and the military.
• Inspect the detention centers of Sebin, Dgcim, La Tumba, Fuerte Tiuna, El Helicoide. Interviews with the imprisoned-kidnapped.
• Demand a census of prisons and detention centers throughout the country, of prisoners and kidnapped for political or common reasons, with their number and identification, as well as the status of their trials and criminal procedures, in addition to their physical state.
• Identify one by one the status of criminal procedures of each of the accused and deprived of liberty in the aforementioned prisons.
• It must be demanded that the appropriate hearings be given to the accused who have been deprived of their liberty. (In this sense, compliance with the Constitution and the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure must be enforced, particularly articles 9 and 229 which are very clear in pointing out that the deprivation of liberty of an accused person is EXCEPTIONAL; that is to say, it is not the rule that an accused person is deprived of his freedom, quite the contrary. If this were not the case, there would be no right to the presumption of innocence. Hence, pretrial detention is exceptional and the rule that allows it is of restrictive interpretation. Consequently, according to article 132, ejusdem, at 12 hours after the arrest of a person, a Judge must be notified; at 24 hours (article 232) plus 48 (article 233), the hearing and the decision of the judge must take place, otherwise the accused must be automatically released).
• It must be ensured that no accused is held, as established in Article 230 of the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure, for more than two years in custody. The opposite constitutes a NOTORIOUS FACT of human rights violation by the government.
• It must be ensured, as stated in article 231 ejusdem, that no accused person over 70 years of age is detained (deprived of liberty), even preventively.
• It must be ensured that police actions comply with the rules established in the law for their intervention, during the apprehension and participation in the entire criminal process (Article 119 ejusdem), under penalty of incurring in criminal responsibilities.
• It must be ensured that officials who violate the human rights of the accused are held accountable, as established in article 123 ejusdem.
• Respect for dignity, due process, defense, contradictory, presumption of innocence, protection of the Constitution, res judicata, of the accused must be ensured (articles 10 and following ejusdem).
• It must be ensured, above all, that the criminal proceedings are in the hands of the State through the duly reinstated Public Prosecutor’s Office, and not by a different body, let alone the president of the Republic (art.11 ejusdem).
• Guarantee that torture, kidnappings, exiles, confiscation of property, both of the accused and of their family members, cease.
• Immediate release of all persons detained and kidnapped, including PDVSA workers and FANB members.
• Provide assistance to the High Commissioner team so they can receive relatives and victims of human rights violations at the UN offices in Caracas, and, given the current and serious transport issues, open focal point centers in the east and west of the country for the same purpose.
• Create an International Commission of Jurists to review trials and proceedings applied to those accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office or under legal measures.
• Reestablish the right to dignity, reputation, defense, and presumption of innocence.
• Eliminate the use of justice as an instrument of political persecution.
• The government and a UN political mission must guarantee the rights and full liberties of the political exiles so we can return to the country.
• Intervene or dissolve the “Truth Commission”. Create a body of international Jurists, with the support of the UN, to investigate all crimes and acts of political violence that occurred in the country, between 2013 and 2019, including the death in custody of former minister Nelson Martínez.
• Request the intervention of the Public Ministry and that an independent commission of jurists can undertake a review of all cases and accusations previously made by said body. The Attorney General must resign.
• Open an accelerated and transparent process to solve and review the ongoing judicial cases without a final judgment.
• Request the intervention and deactivation of FAES. Investigate the human rights crimes and violations carried out by this body.
• Request the intervention of SEBIN. Investigate the human rights crimes and violations carried out by this body. Receive and investigate the denunciations made by Major General Cristopher Figuera.
• Investigate the human rights crimes and violations carried out by Dgcim.
• Cancel the extradition and capture orders issued by the TSJ on August 17, 2018.
• Allow access to the High Commissioner’s team to the prisons for common prisoners of the country.
• Investigate the cases of deaths and killings in these prisons, as well as opening an investigation into the deaths of more than 67 common prisoners burned alive in the police cells of Carabobo, on March 29, 2018.
• Demand the government, the relevant ministries, and the National Institute of Statistics to provide all the figures regarding health, child mortality, education, and all indicators of social development in the country.
• Request support from PAHO, WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, FAO, ECLAC, among other United Nations agencies to restore the survey and statistics of economic and social indicators in the country.
• Carry out a national survey, with the support of the Red Cross, WHO, PAHO and other international organizations, of the needs for medicines and special treatments for chronic and high-risk diseases, as well as the state of the health infrastructure in the country.
• Carry out a national survey, with support from FAO, UNICEF, and other UN agencies, of the food needs and levels of malnutrition in the country, especially in children, pregnant women and the elderly.
In all honesty, the Office of the High Commissioner and other United Nations agencies will have much to do in the country. All the national sectors must join efforts and wills to provide full support to this commendable task, as well as to expose this absurd and unbearable situation of human rights violations suffered by our people.
It is important to recognize and understand that human rights must be treated without politicization or discrimination, they are universal and for all. No death and no abuse can be tolerated; no government, and much less one that proclaims itself progressive, can be based on suffering and cruelty.
It is important to recognize the other half of the country, the Chavistas imprisoned, tortured and persecuted by the madurismo, including myself, are citizens, human beings with rights and we will enforce them. Let us all be one voice, those that demand the end of the government’s impunity, the respect for human rights and the full validity of our Constitution.