A Venezuelan delegation was given the opportunity to address concerns raised by the United Nations Committee Against Torture yesterday in Geneva. Yesterday, the committee posed questions to the delegation ranging from allegations of torture against opposition protesters to the use of pro-government armed militias as police bodies.
The Venezuelan delegation – headed by the Vice-Minister of Internal Politics Jose Vicente Rangel – was given 90 minutes to directly address the questions. However, rather than taking the opportunity to clarify the human rights situation in the country, Rangel spoke around the issues and never addressed any of them with any clarity.
Felice Gaer, one of the committee members, grew frustrated with the elusive answers and said:
I think that the answers did not match the questions. We asked about when the Special Rapporteur [for human rights] might be able to visit Venezuela. When will these independent mechanisms be able to visit the country? They’re all waiting authorization to visit the country.
Gaer also expressed pessimism that the human rights situation in the country would improve in the short-term, since the Venezuelan state does not recognize the violations.
The meeting began to get heated when the case of Maria Lourdes Afiuni came up. Afiuni is a former judge who was arrested after releasing a prisoner who had been held in custody for longer than Venezuelan law allows. Her case has come to embody the encroachment of executive will on the judiciary.
In 2012, Afiuni revealed that she had been raped in prison, become pregnant, and had an abortion. When the committee asked for clarification on the sexual assault allegations, the Venezuelan delegation replied,
… do not worry about this particular detail.
The comment prompted this chiding remark from Essadia Belmir:
If there is one case that needs to be talked about, it’s this one. This is very important and very serious because it transcends the person and affects the concept of the judicial system and the rule of law. If this had happened in another country, it would have caused shock waves. Not just one shock wave, but many.
On the issue of the disproportionate measure of force used against protesters earlier this year, Rangel said:
What did you want? What? We used the forces of the law, police forces, and their legal anti-riot equipment.
In an almost comical sign of the global attention Maduro’s vindictiveness has caused, the meeting ended with Rangel promising on behalf of the Venezuelan government to not attempt to persecute the members of the NGOs present in the audience at the request of the committee.
“El Colombia” Arrested
Minister of Interior, Justice and Peace Carmen Melendez announced today that the alleged ringleader of the gang that killed Robert Serra and his partner has been arrested in Colombia.
Leiva Padilla Mendoza, a.k.a. “El Colombia”, was named as a prime suspect by the Venezuelan government almost immediately after Serra and Herrera were found dead in their Caracas home.
He was the one who directed [the murder] and all of the paperwork is being processed at the embassy to have him brought to Venezuela.
El Aissami: Jaua Target of the Bourgeois
The governor of Aragua State, Tarek el Aissami, said that Minister of Communes Elias Jaua has become of the “fascist bourgeois” in recent days. Jaua has been in the news after his nanny was arrested for smuggling his pistil into Brazil. The Brazilian government also filed a formal complaint against Venezuela after it was revealed that Jaua was in the country conducting official business in a clandestine fashion.
El Aissami said:
The fascist bourgeois, without respect for anything, is trying to disqualify Elias Jaua. He had to leave the country for family health reasons, and they – because they love misery – attack Elias. It doesn’t matter, though, because they think that they are going to break the will of all revolutionaries. Let them attack us whenever they want! The more they attack us, the stronger we become.
Finally, a small group of Venezuelans staged a demonstration today to protest the state of the roads in Ciudad Bolivar, Bolivar state.
The sign in the middle reads, “We deserve roads without potholes or broken watermains”:
The sign on the right reads, “Roads and avenues deteriorated to the point of collapse. Streets without lighting and [full of] garbage”: