Today, the Organization of American States held a meeting. Earlier this week, Panama ceded its seat on the council to give Maria Corina Machado the floor. Maria Corina was expected to speak the at meeting today on the situation in Venezuela.

Nicaragua headed the charge against holding an open session during which Maria Corina’s testimony could be heard by the audience, including the press.

The countries that voted in favour of an open session were:  Panama, Mexico, the U.S., Guatemala, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Canada, Paraguay and Honduras. Barbados abstained.

However, after a full day of debates, Maria Corina was actually unable to speak at all.

In a conference after the meeting, Maria Corina said a couple of things:

  • When discussing the subject of liberty in a particular country, she said “indifference is synonymous with complicity.
  • Maduro “is afraid that the magnitude of the brutal repression that Venezuela is living will be known.”
  • In Venezuela, “a civil and citizen-based movement without precedent has began to grow, peaceful and irreversible, that they [the government] will not be able to stop.”
  •  “Today, the world recognizes the Venezuelan regime for what it is: a dictatorship. We have to call things by their proper names, and in Venezuela there is a dictatorship.”

As of 5:20 PM local time, Daniel Ceballos was in a courtroom in Caracas on trial for civil rebellion and conspiracy.

On the Ceballos case, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [Supreme Court] released a document today stating that the penalty Ceballos faces (specifically, under Article 31 of the Ley Organica de Amparo sobre Derechos y Garantias Constitucionales) carries a prison sentence of 6 to 15 months. This is the same law that was used to incarcerate Enzo Scarano, so it is widely expected that Ceballos will fare a similar fate to the mayor of San Diego.

The fallout from the Scarano’s ten month prison sentence is still sending shockwaves through the country. Today, it is being alleged that the move by the Supreme Court to send Scarano to jail has no legal basis. Scarano’s lawyer, Alonso Medina Roa, said:

The Constitutional Hall [of the Supreme Court] acted like a criminal tribunal. It carried out a summary trial, which did not even originate with a complaint from the Public Ministry [which is how trials are started]. We had 47 witnesses and, without any explanation, we were told that they would only listen to 5. We were only given 10 minutes – between the mayor and I – to state our defence. The Supreme Court endorsed [or accepted] the testimony of five National Guard soldiers, a citizen of San Diego, an a video with statements from the president of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello against Scarano. It was all resolved at the end of an audience [before the court] that lasted eight hours. 

Alberto Arteaga Sanchez, a Venezuelan jurist, says on the case:

This has no precedent in the country. It’s as absurd as the death penalty… if we accept this decision, then any mayor [in the country] can be removed from office without any legal  formula, as it happened with Scarano.

(To put the “death penalty” comment in context: Sanchez is arguing that the Supreme Court sending Scarano to jail is as absurd as sentencing someone to death, because there is no death penalty in Venezuela and therefore no legal means to do carry out an execution. Interesting fact: Venezuela was the first country in the world to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, in 1863!)

In other words, it looks like the Supreme Court went ahead and just made up this trial on the fly. It is becoming increasingly obvious that this was a precedent-setting case that took place in order to create a basis for the removal and imprisonment of other mayors.

It looks like the next in line for this sort of treatment is the mayor of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho. You’ll remember that Maduro made a couple of not-so-subtle threats to have him removed from office yesterday. It is widely expected that proceedings against Muchacho will commence soon. Muchacho was voted into office with a total of 39,424 votes, or 84.63% of the vote.

Daniel Ceballos sent his wife this letter from the Ramo Verde military prison yesterday. Here is a portion of it:

The letter reads:

Ramo Verde 20/03/2014

There aren’t enough jails to imprison the millions who are fighting for LIBERTY in Venezuela! For every imprisoned gocho [colloquialism for a person who lives in Tachira], 1000 more will go out onto the street! Let the street speak. Let it continue to scream for justice and liberty!

Where there is darkness we will continue to look for the light, this is a battle that we are carrying out in our minds between ignorance and knowledge.

Daniel Ceballos, in [illegible – maybe unidad, “unity”] with Leopoldo Lopez and Enzo Scarano

Here is a picture of a demonstration in Altamira, Caracas from tonight:

There’s a video making the rounds of a student demonstrator getting savagely beaten by a colectivo armado and uniformed officers two days ago. There’s a testimony video from the student after the event (thankfully he wasn’t killed), in which he describes the beating. I will translate that video and post it here tomorrow.

Here is the security camera video of the beating. For the first 40 seconds, it shows a crowd of students standing around. At around 0:40, the crowd flees the area in a panic. At that time, a group of men enter the screen, and proceed to beat Jaime Yespica and others brutally. The beating occurred in the San Jacinto neighbourhood of Maracay, Aragua.

Warning: The video shows a group of men, including uniformed officers, violently beating protesters:

In a response to Leopoldo Lopez’s call for a demonstration, the government has called out its supporters to the streets for tomorrow as well. The government demonstration is called “Mobilization of the Youth and the Students for Peace and Against Violence and Terrorist Attacks”, and is scheduled to start tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM from Plaza Venezuela in Caracas.

All eyes are on the horizon tonight, as given the events of the past two days, it will be very interesting to see the turnout for the demonstrations tomorrow.

One thought on “March 21: “Indifference is complicity”

  1. Pingback: March 22: Fight To Victory | In Venezuela

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