Venezuelan Catholics took part today in the Burning of Judas ceremony throughout the country. While the ceremony is not officially sanctioned by the Catholic Church, it typically occurs on Easter Sunday and involves the burning of effigies. Traditionally, the effigies were of Judas Iscariot, but effigies of unpopular political figures have also been burned in the past.
This year, Maduro was a popular effigy for burning, along with People’s Defender Tarek William Saab and Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno.
In Caracas, residents burned a four-headed effigy of Maduro, Saab, Moreno, and the mayor of the Libertador municipality, Jorge Rodriguez.Carlos Julio Rojas, a community organizer who organized the event, explained the reason for the effigy:
Maduro is the true face of fascism in Venezuela, and he’s forcing the people to humiliate themselves by eating out of garage bags. He also has blood on his hands for being responsible for the murders of seven [sic] people who were protesting in favour of democracy and liberty.
Below, the effigy burns while people cheer and chant, “Fuera Maduro!” [Maduro out!]:
In the El Cafetal neighbourhood of the city, residents burned effigies of Maduro and Moreno, as well as that of Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez. The video below shows residents getting ready to lit the fire while a man gives a speech:
Man: You stand accused of submitting our country to the worst humanitarian crisis of the republic; of forcing people to go without food and medicine; of handing over our land to foreign nations and of letting the disputed zone of Guayana get invaded every day. You stand accused of treason against the homeland, the constitution, and the people, for promising things you could never deliver and for lying.
We hope that at the end of the trial and after April 19 [the day of the opposition protest] we will be able to see light at the end of the tunnel (…)
[To the crowd:] you are the ones who will decide the verdict against the regime.
Crowd: Guilty! Burn them!
National Assembly deputy Luis Florido tweeted a set of images showing more effigies from around the country:
In Santa Fe, Caracas, residents hung an effigy wearing a “PSUV” shirt. The reporter says that effigy was of Minister of Defense Nestor Reverol:
The regime appears to have taken issue with the practice. Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles retweeted a video showing National Guard soldiers removing an effigy, presumably of Maduro, while frightened residents watch. The woman who timidly recorded the seen says, “Let them take it, because if anyone gets arrested it’ll be hard to get them out [of jail]”:
Sanchez Brothers Allegedly Tortured
Alejandro and Jose Sanchez, two brothers who are members of the Primero Justicia [Justice First] (PJ) opposition party, were arrested on April 14 at a peaceful demonstration in Caracas. Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol later tweeted that the men were involved in “terrorist” activities, but friends and family told media that the two had been arrested simply for participating in an anti-regime demonstration.
Earlier today, Julio Borges–the leader of the PJ party–held a press conference in which he said that the Sanchez brothers were being tortured and forced to sign confessions by the authorities. Borges said:
They forced these young men, physically and psychologically, to implicate their fellow party members in an attempt to soil, attack, and smear that movement that is taking over Venezuela.
Borges said that the brothers were being tortured in the hopes of getting them to sign false confessions against the PJ leadership in Caracas, including Marialbert Barrios, Tomas Guanipa, Jose Guerra, and Jorge Milan.
National Assembly deputy Juan Miguel Matheus said that the party has a list containing the names of 37 police officials whom PJ believes have been directly involved in the torture of the Sanchez brothers. Mathus called the brothers’ arrest “a forced disappearance”, and said that he hoped that the blatant violation that it constitutes will draw more attention to the Maduro regime:
In a matter of weeks, days, we’ve gone from having an [authoritarian] government that has broken the constitutional order in Venezuela, to one that tortures and submits the political opposition, the leaders for change, to cruel and inhuman treatment.
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, tweeted about the case of the Sanchez brothers earlier today and called for their immediate release. Almagro said:
I emphatically condemn this flagrant violation against human rights. These young men should be freed and those responsible punished!!
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