National Assembly deputy Renzo Prieto is in regime detention today after having been arrested yesterday during an opposition march in Caracas. Prieto’s lawyer, Ana Leonor Acosta, told reporters today that her client’s rights are being violated, and that she knows neither where exactly he was arrested or why.
Acosta explained that Prieto began to be targeted by the authorities in the early morning hours yesterday, even before he left his home to participate in the march. She said:
Starting in the early morning hours, Prieto was being followed by [police] vehicles. Despite that, he decided to go to the march that was called by the president-in-charge of Venezuela, Juan Guaido. He then went to the hotel where he was arrested by the [FAES, a branch of the National Bolivarian Police] together with other deputies without a warrant or any sort of explanation.
Acosta also said that as a legislator, aside from having the right to not be arbitrarily detained as does every other Venezuelan, her client is a legislator with parliamentary immunity. She also explained that he is being held incommunicado:
Prieto spent four years in prison after he was arrested in 2014 during the anti-government protests of that year. He was released in 2018. Acosta said:
He hasn’t communicated with his family nor his lawyers. As his defense [lawyer], I went to the court where his last case was handled… we demand that he be released immediately, and that his rights human rights be respected. This pattern of persecution against legislators by the the regime of Nicolas Maduro violates international and national laws.
Doctor Raises Coronavirus Readiness Alarm
Ana Vielma, a doctor at the Aldogonal hospital in Caracas, raised alarm over what she considers to be Venezuela’s inability to deal with the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Vielma explained that the hospital lacks even basic equipment and supplies, compromising its response to any possible outbreak of the virus in the capital. She explained that the the hospital “doesn’t even have face masks” to give to patients who check-in with coronavirus symptoms, and that as a result it was woefully unequipped to treat patients of the disease. Dr. Vielma also provided an example of the overall state of the hospital:
I want people to understand that we do not meet the conditions to allow the hospital to receive patients suspected [of having the disease]. Our morgue hasn’t had refrigeration in more than 10 years.
February Inflation Rate Reached 22.4%
The National Assembly’s Finance Committee revealed today that the country’s inflation rate for February was 22.4%, bringing the accumulated rate since the start of 2020 to 102.4%. The annual inflation rate–from February 2019 to February 2020–sits at 3,276%.
When broken down by product type, food and non-alcoholic beverages saw the biggest inflationary jump, rising by 15% in February. They were followed by clothing and shoe prices, which saw a 14.4% increase.
Telecommunication services were the most impacted by inflation overall, though, with cell phone services jumping 748.16%, while internet services saw a jump of 253.63%.
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