Agents from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional [SEBIN], the Maduro regime’s political police, raided the home of former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz in Caracas earlier this afternoon. El Nacional reports that while neither Ortega Diaz nor her husband National Assembly deputy German Ferrer were home at the time, the SEBIN did arrest a woman employed to work at the house.
The officers also took what appeared to be computers from the home.
The raid came just a few short hours after Constituent Assembly member Diosdado Cabello held a press conference in which he said that as attorney general, Ortega Diaz was in charger of a “blackmail and corruption” ring that also involved her husband.
Below, an image and a video of SEBIN patrol cars outside of the Ortega Diaz residence during the raid:
Cabello’s allegations along with the SEBIN raid constitute the latest in a series of attacks against the former attorney general that began after she broke away from the PSUV on March 31 and began to publicly criticize the Maduro regime. Ortega Diaz, who was appointed to the position by Hugo Chavez in 2007, faithfully executed her duties to universal praise from Maduro and the rest of the PSUV until her public break from the party line.
Sensing the fact that this latest wave of attacks against Ortega Diaz and her husband may be perceived as retaliation for their political betrayal, Cabello said:
This has nothing to do with her political position. If I’d heard these complaints six months ago, I would have done the same thing.
Ortega Diaz reacted to the raid on her home through Twitter, saying:
The SEBIN raiding my home right now is this government’s revenge for my fight against totalitarianism in Venezuela.
This is how the government of Maduro and Cabello are trying to put an end to our struggle for democracy and freedom for Venezuelans.
Cabello Outlines Alleged “Extortion and Corruption” Racket
Speaking before the Public Ministry building in Caracas shortly after filing a formal complaint against Ortega Diaz, Cabello said that he was accusing the former attorney general with being part of a criminal organization that operated inside the institution. Cabello alleges that the organization was also comprised of her husband, National Assembly deputy German Ferrer, who has also become an outspoken critic of the regime in recent months.
Ferrer was a member of the ruling party bloc in the legislature until August 1, when he along with two other PSUV deputies formed their own bloc over what they consider to be Maduro’s hard drive towards authoritarianism.
Cabello said that he was in possession of “real, original documents” that proved that the criminal organization existed.
Cabello explained that the alleged extortion racket involved Ortega Diaz and others calling state-owned companies and threatening to launch investigations into their business unless they paid a fee. He also explained that he had “recordings” of prosecutors extorting detainees, an activity he suggested was also part of Ortega Diaz’s criminal empire.
Prior to being removed from her position as attorney general on August 5, Ortega Diaz had publicly announced that she had started a fraud investigation involving the highly contested July 30 Constituent Assembly vote.
Constituent Assembly Moves on Opposition Election Candidates, Leaders
The Constituent Assembly announced today that its “Truth Commission” would launch an investigation into opposition politicians running in the October elections in order to prevent “those who have called for violence” from running. The news came from the head of the assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, who said that the commission had already requested the list of candidates from the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE).
While it’s not clear how the Constituent Assembly will conduct the investigation or to what end, Diosdado Cabello suggested earlier this month that anyone looking to run in the regional elections should be required to receive a “good conduct card” from the Constituent Assembly.
Calling the anti-regime protests that shook the country from April to late July were “hate crimes”, Rodriguez also said that the Constituent Assembly was launching an investigation into National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara for being “one of the promoters of the violence and the terror” of the protests.
Rodriguez also announced another investigation, this one into alleged dealings between National Assembly president Julio Borges and a group of “Australian investors” via Goldman Sachs. Rodriguez claims that Borges personally communicated with individuals outside of the country in order to convince them to not invest money in Venezuela.
None of the allegations have been proven.
Wuilly Arteaga Released With Conditions
Wuilly Arteaga, the beloved protester who captured the hearts of Venezuelans for playing his violin during anti-regime protests, was conditionally released last night after more than two weeks of detention. Arteaga was held in a National Guard prison in Caracas since July 27, when he was arrested at a protest in the capital.
It is not clear what the conditions of Arteaga’s release are. It is not unlikely for protesters who are released conditionally to be banned from attending future protesters.
The announcement of Arteaga’s release appears to have taken his lawyer by surprise. Alfredo Romero, who heads both the Foro Penal Venezolano (FPV) and Arteaga’s legal team, reacted to media reports that his client had been released that he did not know where Arteaga was.
It took Romero approximately one hour to discover that Ateaga had in fact been released. According to Romero, National Guard soldiers dropped Arteaga off in the Altamira plaza in Caracas. Romero said:
#15Ag it is true that the National Guard released Wuilly and left him in Altamira without telling us. He has now appeared and is safe.
Arteaga became a common fixture at anti-regime protests in Caracas, and was highly recognizable due to his ability to play the violin even while coming under tear gas and rubber pellet fire from authorities.
In an interview conducted earlier in the year, Arteaga talked about his passion for playing music at protests:
I know that music carries a different message. I play not only for the protesters: I play for the police and the soldiers who repress, because I’ve seen that when I play close to them some of them cry. I tell them, “my music is for you, because you will also be free”.
Arteaga was subjected to torture and cruel treatment while in detention. He has lost hearing in one ear after soldiers smashed his priced violin against his head, and soldiers burned his hair on at least one occasion.
Arteaga Speaks to Reporters on New “Crusade”, Torture
Speaking to reporters today on his conditional release, Arteaga said:
I am not free because my country is not free. I’m out and I’m going to fight for freedom once again in the only way that I know how: through my music. But this time I have a stronger commitment to life, a stronger commitment to the freedom of political prisoners.
Arteaga elaborated on his newfound opinions on political prisoners given his firsthand experience, saying:
No political prisoner deserves to be held under any condition, including house arrest. I made a promise to the boys that I so painfully left behind [in prison] that I would not rest until they were all released. I ask God that he help me in this new crusade to which I have been committed. Even if I have to go before President Maduro himself to ask for an end to illegal detentions against political dissidents, I will, [because] there we can’t arrest Venezuelans for their political ideas anymore.
When reporters asked Arteaga about his health, he answered that he would go see a doctor as soon as possible because he was still suffering from hearing loss in one ear due to a beating that he received from soldiers on the first day of his detention. Arteaga said that despite the severity of his injuries, the National Guard did not lend him medical attention at the time.
Arteaga said that the first beating that he received under custody from National Guard soldiers was so severe that there came a point when he no longer felt pain from the strikes.
On the allegations that his captors had burned his hair, Arteaga said that a soldier had in fact taken a lighter to his head and burned his hair. He also said that four days ago, soldiers shaved his head in order to hide evidence of the torture.
Arteaga also lamented the state of the Venezuelan opposition and its apparent unwillingness to truly stand up to the Maduro regime by saying:
There are more than 100 people dead. There are lots of youth still in prison and people suffering on the streets and the politicians are fighting about regional elections. What more do these political leaders want? How many more dead do they want? How many more prisoners? The real heroes are dead.
Florida Will Not Do Business With Companies Linked to Maduro Regime
The state of Florida announced today that it would no longer conduct any business with companies linked to the Maduro regime, essentially ensuring that none of the state’s money could benefit the regime in any way. The move was approved unanimously by the state’s State Board of Administration, and was based on a proposal by governor Rick Scott.
In announcing the measure, the government of the state of Florida said:
Today, the Trustees of the Florida State Board of Administration (SBA) unanimously approved Governor Scott’s proposal to prohibit the State of Florida from doing business with any organization that supports the Maduro regime which continues to brutally oppress the people of Venezuela. Governor Scott has continually called for freedom and democracy in Venezuela, the liberation of all political prisoners and the end of the Maduro regime. Today’s decision by the Trustees occurred during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet following the Governor’s announcement of this proposal last month.
… Florida stands firmly with the Venezuelan people in demanding absolute freedom and democracy now. Let me be clear, the policy we enacted today is a huge step in the right direction and ensures that SBA investments won’t benefit the Maduro regime.
The measure bans the state of Florida from investing in securities issued by the Venezuelan government, investing in any company that is owned by the Venezuelan government, or doing any business with any company that lends money to the Venezuelan government.
At Least 37 Killed in Amazonas Prison Raid
A mutiny at the Centro de Detencion Judicial de Amazonas [Amazonas Judicial Detention Centre] has left at least 37 inmates dead, a figure that represents 40% of the entire prison’s population.
According to Amazonas state governor Liborio Guarulla, inmates at the centre staged a mutiny in the overnight hours and succeeded in taking over the installation. Before the noon hour, authorities attempted to re-take the prison, and a battle between the two sides ensued.
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