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How a dictatorship uses political prisoners to stay in power

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Quem são os presos políticos na Venezuela e como a ditadura os usa para manter-se no poder

Photo courtesy of the press this Thursday by the Penitentiary Forum at which Lt. Col. Ruperto Sanchez (right) hugs his daughter in Caracas, Venezuela today.| Photo: Criminal Disclosure Court / EFE Agency

Former Venezuelan Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ruperto Sanchez, considered a political prisoner by several human rights organizations, was finally released on Thursday (17) after spending seven years in prison on charges of military mutiny. The release was announced by Foro Penal, a Venezuelan non-governmental organization that has been helping people arbitrarily detained by the Chávez dictatorship for nearly 20 years.

The release of a soldier who also holds Spanish citizenship must: according to the organization, which happened in July last year, but only materialized after pressure and accusations. When he was released, he was finally able to hug his wife and daughter.

Stories like that of Sanchez have sadly become commonplace in Venezuela by Nicolas Maduro. According to the NGO Foro Penal, there are currently 301 political prisoners in the country. However, since 2014, the dictatorship has arbitrarily detained 15,743 people for political reasons. Alfredo Romero, director of the NGO, explained People’s Bulletin that these arrests need to be constantly monitored and updated due to the revolving door effect of political prisons in the country.

let one go, hold the other

“The number of political prisoners in a week may be the same as a week earlier, but other people are arrested and released,” Romero said. These comings and goings are intended to intimidate the population and also allow the regime to always use political prisoners as a bargaining chip for negotiating with the opposition and international actors.

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“Arrests always happen, almost weekly, to keep this intimidation flowing smoothly. But as some are released, others are arrested. For example, last week was released Carlos Roja, who was in prison for almost four years, but other people were arrested for various reasons, ”he said.

According to Romero, part of the opposition is also using the position of political prisoners to gain an advantage in the same game as Nicolas Maduro. For example, last year his opponent, Enrique Capriles, announced the release of more than 100 political prisoners, whom Romero said were actually 50, after negotiations with the dictator ahead of the parliamentary elections.

“Specific moments are used to show that they release political prisoners and thus receive certain political benefits – either from the government or from the opposition. The government is arresting people to use them later as a bargaining chip to ease international pressure that would be in place today, or to ease national pressure. And on the side of the opposition, they sit down to negotiate [com o regime] and they include political prisoners who do not know and even make mistakes in the lists, just to gain political gain and to be able to participate in negotiations or dialogues with the government. ”

Who are political prisoners in Venezuela

According to Romero, two opposition political leaders are currently being detained: journalist Roland Carreño, associated with the Voluntad Popular party, and Gilberto Sojo, also the leader of the party. The overwhelming majority of political prisoners in Venezuela are citizens who do not belong to any party, but who at some point criticized the Venezuelan dictatorship: indigenous people are in prisons, unions in the oil industry and education, soldiers accused of the uprising, residents who participated in protests against the regime. The goal of the Chávez government in arresting these people, who are mostly not affiliated with opposition political parties, is to intimidate the population in order to avoid protests, reducing the chances of opposition backlash.

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There are also people who are being arrested so you can find the information you need or force people to surrender. “There is a case of a woman named Maria Auxiliadora Delgado Taboski, who is the sister of Osman Delgado Taboski, who is wanted on charges of participating in the assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro. They detained her and her husband, they have been in prison for almost three years, without trial, without trial, ”Romero said.

Precarious conditions and the right to protection

He also said that of the more than 15,000 people arbitrarily arrested in Venezuela over the past seven years, less than 1% have never been convicted. Many of them have been imprisoned for lengthy terms, up to seven years, without trial, and when they are released, no procedures take place in the same way, because their release is nothing more than a political decision.

“There is, for example, the case of Antonio Garbi, who was detained in 2014 for participating in a protest rally and accused of murder, which allegedly took place during the protest rallies. He did not commit murders, he has been in prison for seven years, and the trial has not even begun, ”the director of the criminal court said, adding that when the courts do not initiate a case, political prisoners have no right to defense. …

“A little more than 10% of the current 301 political prisoners have been convicted. All the rest were not convicted, and the overwhelming majority did not even go to court, ”he said.

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The situation got worse during the pandemic as the health crisis was used as an excuse to deny lawyers access to prisoners. Reception of lawyers and family members in detention centers was closed, which delayed the possibility of granting the right to defense.

Prison conditions are also a major concern of human rights organizations. According to Romero, they do not correspond to the basic conditions of keeping people in seclusion. “Many are sick, in serious condition without medical assistance.”

IN Interview with Spanish newspaper ABCCurling Rodriguez, wife of Ruperto Sánchez, a soldier released this week, said her husband was sent to a “punishment cell” at the Ramo Verde Correctional Facility with 20 other inmates, where they spent 17 days in appalling conditions.

“It was inhuman. There was a restroom for everyone. The feces are full. They had to wash in this cell, and I think they even had to eat there (…) Currently, in Ramo Verde, inmates sleep on the floor, and sanitary conditions have deteriorated in recent years, ”said the wife in early June. …

Finally, Romero warned that arrests were ongoing and that international pressure was important to free political prisoners, as was the case with Sanchez’s release.

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PSDB collapse: toucans may disappear from the political map

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The SDB is in crisis. Little remains of the party, founded in 1988 by social democrats Fernando Enrique Cardoso, Mario Covasa and Franco Montoro, among others, shortly after the fall of the dictatorship and which has remained at the center of the country’s political debate ever since, precisely because it prepared leaders to make changes. into a backwardness scenario.

This happened, for example, in 1994 when the toucans created the Real Plan and stabilized the economy. With less and less capacity for dialogue with society, the party today has become a Babylon where almost no one gets along. The result of this confusion, which began to emerge after the failure of the 2014 presidential campaign led by Esio Neves, became more pronounced on Sunday 2.

The party, which in its heyday even elected eight governors at once, as happened in 2010, this time did not elect a single one, despite the presence of toucans in the second round in four states (RS, MS, PB and PE), even if everyone would be in second place and with a small chance of being elected. The most significant defeat came to the government of São Paulo, the birthplace of the legend and where it was the dominant political force for nearly three decades. The biggest mistake here was made by advertisers who were unable to “sell” to the voters the important achievements of the administration of Joao Doria and Rodrigo Garcia.

KNOCK SHOT Esio Neves and Eduardo Leite (below) acted to reject the democratic process that saw Doria elected to run for president.
Wagner Pires

As a result of the mistakes of the national leadership of the association, especially President Bruno Araujo, who did everything not to put forward his own presidential candidate, excluding Doria from the dispute, Tucano’s bench elected to the next legislature of the Chamber is the smallest in history: only 13 federal deputies – 35 were elected in 2018 – and the party did not elect a single new senator beyond the six it already had. “The party is getting smaller,” admits an important PSDB source. Traditionally, the party had at least 50 federal deputies and rivaled in size the then giants MDB and PT. In the 2018 elections, as Geraldo Alcmín’s presidential campaign weakened, the number of parliamentarians in the House fell to 28. The electoral failure is in no way reminiscent of the party that opposed the PT in every presidential election from 1994 to 2014. This time he limited himself to the appointment of Senator Mara Gabrilli (PSDB-SP) as deputy to Simone Tebet (MDB-MS), who came third in the dispute with just over 4% of the vote.

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disagreements

Doria said the SRB’s poor performance in this year’s elections could lead to the disappearance of the party, which he says “would be a shame.” “At the moment it is the losing side,” he estimates. It is impossible to predict the outcome of the Toucan Nest crisis, but the party’s decline actually began in November 2021, after a group of MP Esio Neves (PSDB-MG) stepped up the process to undermine the former candidate’s pre-candidacy. Governor of São Paulo to the Planalto Palace, democratically determined in the party’s primaries.

The persistence of the Tucanato wing with the candidacy of the then governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite, ultimately made it impossible for Doria to be nominated, a member of the party that proved more viable in the elections, even because of the important work done by his government during the pandemic. “I won the primaries and did not accept them because the national executive thought that with me there would be neither the preservation nor the increase of the federal bench of the Congress,” Doria recalled, intensifying the criticism of the national president Bruno Araujo. “I was practically forced to withdraw from the dispute, and in the end, the SRB elected far fewer deputies, with a reduction of 41%,” he told ISTOE.

With the failure of the elections on the 2nd, the internal split deepened. On Tuesday, the 4th, the National Executive in Brasilia decided to release its members in order to support whoever they wish in the second round of the presidential election. The five former party chairmen decided to support Lulu, but Governor Rodrigo Garcia announced “unconditional and personal” support for Jair Bolsonaro and Tarcisio de Freitas, the presidential candidate for governor of Sao Paulo, who now faces PT Fernando Haddad in the presidential election. second round of the competition. Doria said he would not vote. Subsequently, several Tucan leaders of the old guard announced their vote for Lulu, as was the case with Fernando Henrique. “In this second round, I vote for the history of the struggle for democracy and social integration. I vote for Luis Inacio Lulu da Silva,” said the former president. Currently, the project of reconstruction of the nest of toucans.

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At least 21 politicians who were already on the radar of Operation Lava-Yato are expected to remain on the political scene in 2023.

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Eleven goals of Lava-Yato receive a parliamentary mandate. (Photo: Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil)

At least 21 politicians who were already on the radar of Operation Lava Jato should remain in the political arena in 2023. Twelve of them were elected last Sunday to legislative and executive positions – 11 won seats in the Chamber of Deputies, while Gladson Kameli (PP) won the race for Acre’s government. Another seven remained as deputies, while six were not elected.

Esio Neves (PSDB-MG), Afonso Hamm (PP-RS), Aguinaldo Ribeiro (PP-PB), Artur Lira (PP-AL) – Acting President of the Chamber, Beto Richa (PSDB-PR) will be in the Chamber in 2023. , Joao Leao (PP-BA), Lindbergh Farias (PT-RJ), Luis Fernando Faria (PSD-MG), Mario Negromonte Jr. (PP-BA), Rosana Sarny (MDB-MA) and Vander Lube (PT-MS) .

Kaka Leao (PP-BA) and Romero Huca (MDB-RR), who were running for Senate seats, were not counted; Eduardo Cunha (PTB-SP) and Delcidio Amaral (PTB-MS), federal candidates; and Fernando Collor (PTB-AL) and Luis Carlos Heinze (PP-RS), who sued state governments. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) runs in the second round of elections in Planalto.

On the other front, the executioners of these politicians had significant voices. Associated with União Brasil, former judge Sergio Moro, who led Lava Hato at first instance, was elected senator for Paraná with 1,953,188 votes, deposing Álvaro Díaz (Podemos).

“Phoenix”

Former federal prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol (Podemos) received 344,917 votes for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies. Former task force coordinator for Lava Jato in Curitiba, he has spoken to prominent political figures such as Glazi Hoffmann of the PT (elected with 261,247 votes), Ricardo Barros of the PP (107,022 votes) and Luisa Canziani of the PSD (74,643 votes). In an interview with Estadão on Monday, Dallagnol spoke of Lava Jato’s “rebirth” like a Phoenix.

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“The operation changed the course of the global political system and the system of competition in political disputes in Brazil,” says FGV professor Marco Antonio Carvalho Teixeira. However, for him, the election of so many candidates who passed investigations indicates that the political consequences of this “were left behind.”

recall

According to Professor UniRio and Doctor of Political Science Fabio Kerche, “There are sections of society that regard Moro and Dallagnol as heroes.” He links the election of the two to the “withdrawal” of the operation, which began in 2014.

Kerche sees similarities between the developments of Lava Jato and Mãos Limpas that took place in Italy. “It was also possible to elect the prosecutors and justices of the peace who took part. They left “judicial politics” and moved on to “party politics”.