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The revolving door of political prisoners in Venezuela

Only half of the releases that have occurred in the last few days correspond to persecuted by the regime

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The revolving door of political prisoners in Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro's regime announced on Friday release of 79 people as part of ir willingness to reconcile country. The procedure followed, however, filled with misty intentions. Only 40 of cases correspond to political prisoners of a list conformed by names of 237 civilians and 79 soldiers. Of se, only two have obtained full freedom: Dylan Canache, a 16-year-old teenager who was detained in Helicoide since January on charges of "incitement to protest." The or, Juan Pedro Lares, was arrested at his home in July 2017, although he was never opened a record or trial, so he was practically in a situation of kidnapping, according to data from NGO Foro Penal, which has assisted 70% of detainees since 2014.

The rest of released have restricted freedoms that force m to appear every 30 days in court, some with proceedings initiated in court outside ir place of residence. Everyone is banned from leaving country and talking to media.

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"They are not releases because y all have restrictions and can be re-incarcerated because processes are still open. Of group released, five had exit ballots for months without being executed and re are still seven in that situation. In cases such as that of Congressman Renzo Prieto and Gabriel Vallés, who had been without judicial proceedings for four years and not knowing what y were accused of, y had to leave at two years of age because y were never prosecuted, says defender Alfredo Romero.

The lawyer believes that an amnesty law or presidential pardons decree would be right ways to grant full freedoms if government wanted to promote country's reconciliation. "The government has simply made a political decision to influence courts to dictate measures. Even those released in December were required to be regularly presented to National Constituent Assembly and not to courts, which was totally irregular.

For Romero, se new releases reveal "revolving door" effect. Some come out and ors come in. Since 2014, when political conflict in Venezuela has been sharpened, 12,341 people have been admitted for political reasons. More than half (7,285) remains with restrictions and precautionary measures of submission to courts.

"We manage a conservative figure of cases that we have been able to corroborate and that are reported to Organization of American States (OAS). But persecution does not stop, " lawyer points out.

In five years, government of Maduro has kept on average one hundred political prisoners a month under a pattern of systematic persecution of opponents. The calculation is based on research presented last week by experts appointed by OAS to denounce Maduro for crimes against humanity before International Criminal Court. The number has reached peaks over 600. At end of 2017 it remained on 200 and in 2018 it rose to 300 imprisoned.

The persecution has been exacerbated and in just six months re have been 389 arrests. In 190 cases victims are still behind bars. In May alone, forces of Maduro regime took 148 people.

In four years, Alfredo Romero has categorized Venezuelan political prisoners and three reasons for imprisonment. "The first is political exclusion, like case of leaders like Leopoldo López. The second is by intimidation: You put five students in jail and intimidate a thousand. The third is by political propaganda, because you make m responsible for problems that you cannot solve, as it has been done with businessmen or bankers accusing m of economic war. " The release of some has also served government of currency of exchange in height moments of political, social and economic crises that plunges South American country.

Disappearances, new pattern

Alfredo Romero denounces a practice that has become common in political detentions of recent months. The person is carried by security forces arbitrarily, disappears for days and n reappears in a court or is simply left free.

"At moment re are people who are enforced disappearances," says Romero. The lawyer points out that following recent investigations within armed forces, for alleged rebellions and uprisings against government, se cases have increased, as intelligence agencies are taken to relatives or related persons With designated military.

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