A human rights group out of Miami, Florida, called Venezolanos Perseguidos Politicos en el Exilio [Politically Persecuted Venezuelans in Exile] are asking the United States government to deny former prosecutor Franklin Nieves a visa. The group claims that Nieves is a human rights violator, evidenced by his prosecution of politically motivated cases in Venezuela.
The group issued a press release, part of which reads:
Nieves is looking to find refuge in a kind of exile that is reserved for [the victims of] political persecution, not for persecutors like himself.
The United States cannot allow that human rights violators excuse themselves under any argument so that they may avoid facing national and international justice and become accepted in this land.
The group alleges that Nieves has a long career “prosecuting [political] opponents and winning long sentences”, as well as failing to act against instances of torture and manipulating cases for the benefit of the government.
Nieves fled the country with his family some time last week. He re-surfaced on Friday in the United States, and published a video in which he alleges that he received orders to fabricate evidence in order to secure a conviction against opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez is currently serving a nearly-14 year sentence in the Ramo Verde military prison.
Former Judge: Attorney General Must Resign
Former judge Roman Duque Corredor told El Nacional yesterday that he believes Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz must resign in light of recent allegations by former prosecutor Franklin Nieves that the case against Leopoldo Lopez was largely fabricated.
The statements by Nieves that he forged evidence against Lopez are evidence of the institutional deterioration of our country. In a serious and democratic country, if a prosecutor builds a case on false evidence he must resign. Since [Nieves] said that he received orders from his superior, in this case [Attorney General] Luisa Ortega Diaz, Parliament and the Moral Council must investigate her staff’s role because her ethical conduct is in question.
Corredor also placed responsibility on the trial judge, Susana Barreiros, for admitting falsified evidence. He also said that Nieves’ allegations are serious enough to warrant the involvement of international organizations:
In Venezuela, the [government] powers plan to sentence dissent, which is why Nieves’ confession must be taken to the [International] Criminal Court in The Hague, along with others that reveal how dissent is being criminalized.
Alfredo Romero, the head of the Foro Penal Venezolano, said that the consequences of the intrusion of the executive branch in judicial matters are “terrible”, and have resulted in 78 prison sentences, 2,000 probation measures, and at least 200 cases of torture.
The suffering caused by these judges who are invested in evil, or have been the victims of evil, has definitely been terrible. This situation falls perfectly into the concept of political persecution, which is a crime against humanity according to Article 7 of the Rome Statute.
AG Diaz Denies Pressure Allegations
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz shot back at accusations that her office pressured Franklin Nieves to fabricate evidence in the Leopoldo Lopez case, saying that the Public Ministry does not engage in those tactics. Instead, Diaz suggested that Nieves had given in to “national and international pressures”, although she did not elaborate what she meant by the comment.
Diaz also said that Nieves’ home and office had been raided by authorities, and that since he was no longer a deputy, Nieves no longer qualified to receive his pension.
El Nacional Documents Shifting Shopping Habits
El Nacional published a piece today in which it documents some of the ways grocery shopping habits have changed in light of the ongoing scarcity crisis.
According to the article, an elderly couple living in Caracas said that while last year they went grocery shopping once every two weeks, they are forced to go out on a daily basis now. The couple said that the constant struggle to find food has taken up all of the leisure time, and that they miss being able to enjoy a cup of coffee with friends on their balcony.
The scarcity is also affecting Venezuelans at work. Mariana Delgado, who works as a secretary, told the newspaper that she spends her lunch hour checking nearby stores for food, while a systems specialist named Federico Muñoz said that his co-workers often ask their boss for days off to go grocery shopping.
The head of Datanalisis, Juan Vicente Leon, told the newspaper that 76.1% of Venezuelans are unable to find the food items they’re looking for, or when they do, it’s in small quantities.
As a result, the Venezuelan diet as increasingly become less a matter of what is healthy and not healthy to it, and more a matter of eating whatever is available. Mario Jimenez, an office administrator, told the newspaper that his cholesterol levels are very high, and that:
I used to eat fish a few times a week. Now that one kilogram costs Bs. 3,000, I can’t afford to.
The head of the Colego de Nutricionistas de Venezuela [Venezuelan Nutritionists’ College], Nixa Martinez, told the newspaper that the full nutritional effects of the scarcity crisis have yet to be seen, as children growing up in Venezuela today could be particularly affected by lack of calcium and other vital nutrients.
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