• Maibort Petit

Do we have Freedom of Speech or is our Political Adversary a Domestic Terrorist ?

George Orwell, the author of the book 1984, was a devoted Socialist. He saw how in Russia they took Socialism to the level where the Government controlled it citizens. The book 1984 was against Big Government taking away all rights from the people. "The word crimestop denotes the citizen's self-awareness to immediately rid themselves of unwanted, incorrect thoughts (personal and political), the discovery of which, by the Thinkpol, would lead to detection and arrest, transport to and interrogation."


The quote is from a book. What we are about to present to you is a Report by Maibort Petit on what is happening in the real world to those who oppose the ideology of the Government. The Government is one that claims to be a Democratic Socialist State. The setting is in Venezuela. But the reality of what this report is relating is not limited to this one geographic area. This is an important read and most of you will be able to relate to it no matter where you presently live.


Quote on freedom of speech
Why Freedom of Speech is important ?

The destruction of the political adversary and his designation as a 'domestic terrorist'.

Opposing the ideology of official thought led to imprisonment during the period that began with the rise of Hugo Chávez to the presidency of the republic, a situation that worsened in the times of his successor, Nicolás Maduro.

by Maibort Petit


The authoritarian vein of the late former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez Frías, prevented him from accepting divergent thinking, much less political dissent. Whoever was not aligned with his ideas and differed from his decisions, was simply, not his adversary as in every democratic society happens, but his enemy and as such was treated by the regime he headed.


ideology of chavez
Whomever opposed Hugo Chávez Frías was his enemey

His fiery verb lashed out from the beginning of his term against his political opponents whom he classified as

"scrawny",

"stale oligarchs",

"pitiyanquis",

"lack of arms of imperialism",

"[domestic] terrorists"

among many insults. Dissent was even punished in the opposition through the "Tascón list", a procedure of discrimination against those who signed in favor of holding the recall referendum against the president between 2003 and 2004.


ideology of chavez on opposition
There is no opposition of ideas - only loyalist and terrorist

The actions of Chávez were directed from the beginning of his administration in the institutional overshoot of the country, the accumulation and hoarding of power through the annihilation of the separation of powers that led him both to political control, as well as to the courts and the formation of a high military constituted by acolytes.


Political prisoners


Chavismo, because from its beginnings, it has been aimed at the formation of a totalitarian regime in which political dissent is unacceptable to the government leadership. A situation that far from changing with the assumption of Nicolás Maduro to power at the death of Chávez, has increased to levels in which even the forms are no longer kept and divergent political thought has become a crime and the figure of the prisoner for conscientious objection is already practically institutionalized, so the ruling party insists on resorting to the euphemism of ensuring that "these are not ordinary prisoners but political prisoners." As of October 25, 2021, the Penal Forum counts 254 political prisoners in Venezuela, of which 15 are women, 132 are military and one is a teenager[1].

The "Report on repression in Venezuela" issued by the aforementioned Penal Forum indicates in the report corresponding to the month of August 2021 that, between the months of January to August of that year, a total of forty-two people registered as "political detainees" were counted, placing in that eighth month the figure of these in 264 people. The NGO notes that the number of "political arrests from January 2014 to August 2021 is 15,762 people arrested, of whom 875 civilians have been prosecuted in military courts in that period."


Big government watching us
Big Government keeping you in line

The report highlights that Gabriel Medina Díaz, died on August 29 while in custody after suffering a respiratory arrest. Medina Díaz was being held in the "Nelson Mándela" annex of the Monagas Judicial Boarding School, an enclosure popularly known as "La Pica". Despite being in serious health for almost 2 months, he did not receive medical attention. He was only rushed to a hospital the day before his death where he eventually died. This death brought to nine the number of political prisoners killed in state custody. He was preceded from 2015 to August 2021 by: Nelson Martínez, Salvador Fernando Franco, Pedro Pablo De San Lu Santana Carballo, Rafael Acosta Arévalo, Fernando Alberto Albán, Rafael Eduardo Arreaza Soto, Carlos Andrés García and Rodolfo Pedro González Martínez[2].


Of these deaths, the former councilor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas for the Primero Justicia party, Fernando Albán, is quite significant, which occurred on October 8, 2018 when he fell from one of the last floors of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin). Although at first the authorities insisted that it was a suicide, the Venezuelan opposition denounced that it had been launched by its torturers. The attorney general appointed by the national constituent assembly, Tarek William Saab, who echoed this thesis from the beginning, changed his version in 2021 when he accused "culpable homicide" by his custodians[3]. A shift that, according to the opinion of not a few, is due more to an attempt to prevent the International Criminal Court from opening a case against the regime of Nicolás Maduro because of its policy of violation of Human Rights, than of a desire for justice.


The 'jewel' in the crown


From the punishment of dissent to political adversaries, classified rather as "enemies" by Chavismo, perhaps that has had greater relevance derived from the international repercussion it had, was that of the leader of the Popular Will party, Leopoldo López, considered as "the jewel in the crown" because, for years, it was a bargaining chip in the negotiations between the government and the opposition.

For Hugo Chávez it turned out to be an uncomfortable subject, given that his management in the public administration acquired notoriety, even international and therefore maneuvered to truncate his access to new positions of power by promoting his political disqualification. Nor did Chávez forget López's role in the April 2002 coup.


The lawsuit between López and Chavismo had its climax already in the time of Nicolás Maduro, when his marked confrontational spirit led to criminal accusations against him that concluded in a trial without guarantees of any kind that sentenced him to 13 years, 9 months, 7 days and 12 hours in prison[4].

The prosecutor in the case, Franklin Nieves, fled to the United States a short time later and denounced that López's trial had been a farce and assured that the order for his arrest and prosecution came directly from Nicolás Maduro[5].


Not just political adversaries


The punishment of dissent is not limited to the rivals of Chavismo militants of the opposition, but has been directed at those who, belonging to the ranks of the ruling party, have dared to express their discontent or disagreement with the policies of the government.

The case of General Raúl Isaías Baduel, former defense minister of the government of Hugo Chávez, is perhaps the most emblematic and illustrative of this situation. Whoever was responsible for the restitution of Hugo Chávez in power after the coup d'état that removed him from the presidency for 48 hours in 2002, died in a cell on October 12, 2021 in the arms of his son – also a political prisoner – Josnar Adolfo Baduel, in the facilities of the Venezuelan intelligence service in the headquarters that is known as El Helicoide. The prosecution said that the death was due to Covid-19 without explaining why, then, he was not in a health center[6].


Chavez did not forgive Baduel for having denounced the totalitarian intention of his mandate, nor his opposition to the constitutional reform proposed by the deceased president in 2007. Revenge for this materialized in 2009, when the military man was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison for corruptioncrimes.[7] In May 2015 he was released from prison thanks to a probation measure, but was again imprisoned in 2017.


Attack on opponents


In 2017, when the Venezuelan people took to the streets in protest against the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice to usurp the functions and powers of the National Assembly, head of the Legislative Power, with an opposition majority after the citizens pronounced themselves in favor of political dissent in the 2015 parliamentary elections. The response of the government of Nicolás Maduro to popular demands was violence and brutality at extreme levels. "(...) the magnitude and severity of the repression in 2017 reached levels unprecedented in Venezuela's recent history," Human Rights Watch and the Penal Forum said in a report called "Attack on Opponents. Brutality, torture and political persecution in Venezuela", published on November 29 of that year.


The report documented 88 cases in which 314 people who were victims of serious human rights violations between April and September 2017 by state security forces and paramilitary groups known in Venezuela as "colectivos" in 13 states of the country were affected. The report warns that these are not isolated cases, nor were they the result of excesses on the part of insubordinate members of the security forces, but are part of a systematic practice of the Venezuelan security forces.

In this last sense, HRW and the Penal Forum indicate in the report that their conclusions coincide with those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), dated August 2017, warning of the "existence of a policy aimed at repressing political dissent and instilling fear in the population in order to stop the demonstrations" in Venezuela. The OHCHR said in its report that it identified "widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions against protesters," as well as "a pattern of other human rights violations, including violent house raids, torture and ill-treatment of detainees in connection with the protests."

The report reports torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in protests, arbitrary arrests and trials, excessive use of public force, as well as the lack of accountability and responsibility on the part of senior government officials. A situation that would respond to the fact that "Since in 2004 former President Hugo Chávez and his allies in the National Assembly at the time took political control of the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela, the judiciary has ceased to act as an independent branch of the State, as a brake on abuses of power by the executive and as a guarantor of fundamental rights."


He cites the case of the Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, a former ally of Chavismo from whom she distanced herself at the beginning of 2017. Such a change of attitude earned her the post, being dismissed by the ruling National Constituent Assembly which replaced her with an official supporter, namely Tarek WilliamSaab[8].

The Chavista representative of the Public Ministry has become a gendarme of the regime using the Constitutional Law against Hatred, for Peaceful Coexistence and Tolerance, with an instrument to attack anyone who disagrees with the Chavista management.


moms protest at school board
Are parents allowed to disagree with Government on what their kids are taught

Since then, the policy of ending political dissent by whatever methods has been in crescendo, multiplying the so-called "forced disappearances" as a method of control aimed at keeping the opposition movement in the lane and is that, in Venezuela, thinking differently is a crime.


REFERENCES

[1] Penal Forum. https://foropenal.com/

[2] Penal Forum. "Report on repression in Venezuela. August 2021". October 6, 2021. https://foropenal.com/reporte-sobre-la-represion-en-venezuela-agosto-2021/

[3] Infobae. "Who are the 10 political prisoners of the Maduro regime who died in custody in Venezuela since 2014." October 13, 2021. https://www.infobae.com/america/venezuela/2021/10/13/quienes-son-los-10-presos-politicos-del-regimen-de-maduro-que-murieron-bajo-custodia-en-venezuela-desde-2014/

[4] El País. "Venezuelan justice sentences Leopoldo López to 13 years in prison." September 11, 2015. https://elpais.com/internacional/2015/09/10/actualidad/1441891200_087531.html

[5] El Nacional. Franklin Nieves: "The order to arrest Leopoldo López came directly from Maduro." November 1, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20160303222030/http://www.el-nacional.com/presos_politicos/Franklin-Nieves-Leopoldo-Lopez-Maduro_0_730726939.html

[6] DW. "Venezuela: Raúl Isaías Baduel, considered a 'political prisoner', dies in prison." October 13, 2021. https://www.dw.com/es/venezuela-muere-en-prisi%C3%B3n-ra%C3%BAl-isa%C3%ADas-baduel-considerado-preso-pol%C3%ADtico/a-59487079

[7] Notiamérica. "Venezuelan justice sentences former Defense Minister Raúl Isaías Baduel to 7 years and 11 months in prison." May 8, 2010. https://www.notimerica.com/politica/noticia-venezuela-justicia-venezolana-condena-anos-11-meses-carcel-ex-ministro-defensa-raul-isaias-baduel-20100508061425.html

[8] HRW. "Attacked opponents. Brutality, torture and political persecution in Venezuela." November 29, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/es/report/2017/11/30/arremetida-contra-opositores/brutalidad-tortura-y-persecucion-politica-en

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