Attorney general Tarek William Saab held a press conference today in which he said that his office was working with a “long and important list” of political prisoners he claims will be released, presumably sooner rather than later. While Saab did not provide any details about the list or a timeline for the releases, his comments are the most concrete sing that the regime is willing to follow-up on a promise made by Maduro last week to release some of the country’s political prisoners as a token of goodwill.
Saab made the announcement by saying:
The announcement made by president Nicolas Maduro has moved forward. We’ve had several meetings and [the releases] will be announced in the next few days (…) I cannot reveal the names, but I can say that it is a long and important list that the country will get to see in due time.
The Foro Penal Venezolano [Venezuelan Penal Forum], a human rights NGO that tracks justice statistics, estimates that there are approximately 368 political prisoners in regime jails today. Twelve of those prisoners are underage.
The Maduro regime and that of Chavez before him soundly denied on repeated occassions that there were political prisoners in Venezuela. Perhaps the most infamous example of these denials came in 2012, when Chavez said during a speech at the National Assembly:
There are no political prisoners in Venezuela. There aren’t political prisoners. I’m asking that we respect this fact. That’s like saying–there are some politicians that are prisoners. That’s something else.
IACHR Rules In Favour of Tascon List Victims
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a ruling today in which it sided with the victims of the Tason List, and found that the Venezuelan government at the time engaged in political discrimination of the individuals whose names appeared on the document. The court also found that in doing so, the Venezuelan government violated the political rights and freedom of thought and expression of three complainants: Rocío San Miguel Sosa, Magally Chang Girón and Thais Coromoto Peña.
The Tascon List is a document that was released by the government of Hugo Chavez that contained the names of millions of Venezuelans who signed a petition to recall the president in 2003 and 2004. The list was published online, and was later used to discriminate against individuals whose names appeared on the list. The damage that the release of the list caused to Venezuelan democracy is incalculable, since it served as an early an frightening example of what might happen if one dared to cast a ballot against Chavez or the ruling party.
In its ruling, the court found the following:
It is evident that the publishing of the identities of those who signed had the goal of intimidating, and sought to disincentivize participation and the possibility of political dissidence. This favoured an atmosphere of political persecution and discrimination against those opposed to the government.
Expelled Venezuelan Diplomat Trying to Stay in the U.S.
Following Maduro’s expulsion of two U.S. diplomats from the country last week, the White House retaliated in kind by ordering the expulsion of two Venezuelan diplomats in that country on May 21. The diplomats were given 48 hours to leave the country, as is customary in diplomatic expulsions.
Earlier today, the Associated Press (AP) reported that one of the diplomats–Jarlet Sanchez–was refusing to return to Venezuela. According to the AP, Sanchez was a career diplomat who served as the deputy consul general in Houston, Texas.
The AP article explains:
But The Associated Press has learned that Sanchez is hoping to stay in the United States permanently by applying for a green card under an obscure provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act. That provision, known as Section 13, says that people who enter the U.S. as diplomats can apply for a change in their immigration status and, if it is granted, obtain permanent residency.
The article points out that the provision that Sanchez is allegedly attempting to use to remain in the United States “was created during the Cold War”, and was used by diplomats from the Eastern bloc countries to defect.
OAS Forwards Damming Report on Crimes Against Humanity to ICC
The Organization of American States (OAS) announced today that it had forwarded to the International Criminal Court (ICC) a damming report published earlier this week that alleges that regime officials have committed crimes against humanity. The report was compiled by a panel of experts over a period of eight months, and includes testimony from victims of torture and other violence by the regime.
The move was announced by OAS secretary general Luis Almagro through his Twitter account in the following message:
The report found that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that regime officials committed crimes against humanity–including murder, torture, and sexual violence–against Venezuelans during their brutal repression of dissent since Maduro took power in 2013.
Maduro Sends 12 Tonnes of Aid to Cuba
The Maduro regime announced today that it was sending 12 tonnes of aid to help the island recover from the passing of Alberto. The storm killed four people and caused flooding as it passed over the island yesterday.
The announcement came from Minister of the Interior Nestor Reverol, who was on site at the Maiquetia airport to see the aid off. Reverol said:
We are sending humanitarian aid in the form of 12 tonnes of material within the framework of the solidarity and love that we feel for this sibling nation, as instructed by president of the republic Nicolas Maduro, in order to aid our Cuban brothers in this historic relation that we have had for many years.
Below, images of Reverol and others loading the aid onto an airplane bound for Cuba:
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