Voluntad Popular politician Gilber Caro marked his first month in prison today, after he was arrested in January for allegedly being involved in a plot against the government. While Caro is being held in the 26 de Julio prison in Guarico state, he has yet to be formally charged with any crime or appear before a judge. Caro’s lawyer, Theresly Malave, summarized Caro’s situation during a press conference today by saying that her client “has been kidnapped by the [Maduro] regime”.
Malave said that she is the only one who is allowed to visit Caro in prison, and even then she is only given minutes to speak to him. She said that she has only been allowed to see Caro twice over the past month. On her two meetings with Caro, Malave said:
The first time I felt that he was really sad, [feeling] really terrible (…) on the Tuesday two weeks ago I felt that he was more focused, more firm in his thoughts….
Malave also said that Caro spent the first few days in prison inside a nightmarish cell that was infested by worms, and that he now shares a cell with a group of men who were “mutilated” by another inmate.
Caro, Another Jailed Figure Speak in Letter
La Patilla published a letter today from Caro co-wrote inside his Guarico prison cell with Steyci Escalona, his partner and fellow VP activist who was arrested alongside Caro last month. The letter is dated January 25 and is the first communication that the country has had from Caro since his detention last month.
Below, my translation of the letter:
Guarico, San Juan de los Morros
26 de Julio Prison 25/01/2017
To the National Assembly:
Dear President Julio Borges, executive committee, colleagues and deputies and the people of Venezuela:
I want to express my most sincere thanks for all of the support that you are giving me and my partner. Despite the walls and the guards around this prison, I hear your support because it is so great and strong. A thousand thanks to you all, and specially to my family.
I have lived through difficult days, dark and full of uncertainty, but they are no different than those that our people live, specially the poorest of the poor who also live through dark days when they have nothing to eat or no medicine.
This is why our struggle is peaceful and always democratic. Today, I am stronger and more committed to my people and my gente [this literally also means “people”, but I think in this context it means “loved ones”].
It goes without saying that we are innocent, because the people and specially you know who we are: hard working people who are always working to move forward.
Let us go, brothers, united with our people and our commitment to political, social, economic and above all cultural change. Through the ballot box we will allow ourselves and our children to see a better Venezuela.
Strength and Faith!
Gilber Caro and Steyci Escalona
May God bless you and enlighten you
Colombia Files Formal Complaint with Venezuela Over Insults
Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin personally filed a written complaint with the Venezuelan ambassador in Colombia, Ivan Rincon, over a recent profane rant by PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello against Colombian vice-president German Vargas Lleras. The complaint was filed on Thursday, and is the latest in a war-of-words between the two countries.
The row began in late January, when Lleras used the word veneco to refer to Venezuelans during a government event in Colombia. Depending on the context, the word can be either a term of endearment or an insult, and Lleras claims that he did not use it in an insulting way.
Cabello responded to Lleras’ comments on his television show, Con El Mazo Dando, a few days later. During his show, Cabello called Lleras “a huge son of a bitch”.
The exact contents of the complaint are not yet known.
The Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Ministry was quick to respond to the news of the complaint, calling it “surprising and unjustifiable”. The comments were accompanied by a press release, which you can read below:
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects the surprising and unjustifiable complaint filed by the government of the Republic of Colombia on the matter that originated from the offensive public statements made against the people of Venezuela by the vice-president of the Republic of Colombia, Mr. German Vargas Lleras.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela would like to remind the Republic of Colombia that the comments by the second-highest ranking official of that country compromise the Colombian state, and the offense leveled against the people of Venezuela constitute a direct and flagrant violation of the most important international treaties and agreements on the protection of human rights that guarantee equality and prohibit discrimination in any shape due to factors such as social status, nationality, ethnic origin or religion.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates before the government of Colombia its demand to hold your vice-president legally responsible in proportion to the damage caused by his illicit action, while at the same time praising the high level of integration shared by our two sister nations through our mutual respect and understanding.
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