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Provea, an NGO that works to promote and defend human rights in Venezuela, attempted to visit student prisoners held in El Helicoide, the imposing headquarters of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional [Bolivarian Intelligence Service] (SEBIN).

However, SEBIN agents prevented access to the students. Marino Alvarado, the general coordinator of Provea, said that an agreement had been reached on Thursday allowing his organization to visit the students. When Provea representatives attempted to visit the prisoners today, they were unexpectedly turned back by SEBIN agents.

Alvarado said:

We consider this decision [to deny us access] disrespectful, not only to ourselves, but also to the Public Ministry, since it was thanks to the Attorney General that we were able to meet and agree on this visit.

Provea was given access to only one student, Sairam Rivas, whom Alvarado described as being “in good condition”. Access to the other prisoners – numbering approximately 100, including a 14 year old – was denied on “orders from above”, according to Alvaredo.

Capriles Calls Fingerprint Rationing System “Unconstitutional”

Miranda governor Henrique Capriles called the rationing system due out before the end of the year “unconstitutional”, and said that the real causes of the scarcity crisis are caused by lack of production and corruption, not smuggling as the government contends. Capriles said:

At the end of the day, they blame smuggling. Who allows smuggling to happen? How does an truck full of gasoline cross the border?
(…)
They talk about increasing gas prices, a cabinet shake up and a biometric system. None of these measures solve the real problem.

Capriles also highlighted the government’s changing narrative regarding scarcity:

First, they said that scarcity was part of a media campaign, that it didn’t really exist… how many times have you seen empty shelves? Do you really think that this scarcity is part of some psychological campaign? Nicolas no sale del aire acondicionado [literally, “Nicolas doesn’t leave air conditioned rooms”, meaning, “Nicolas lives in luxury”]

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