1. In Venezuela the violation of human rights in the country's
prisons is an issue of much concern. Moreover, cases such as
Amparo and the so-called Caracazo regarding which the Inter
American Human Rights Court (CIDH), with headquarters in Costa
Rica , has issued final sentences and even ordered compensations
are widely remembered. Ever since the year 2000, several national
and international organizations have been denouncing these human
rights violations and their increase in recent years.
2. COFAVIC has presented specific accusations and has done a
follow up of
the parapolice groups' activities. In its annual reports
PROVEA has also reported multiple human rights violations, particularly
to the right to life.
3. Ever since the year 2002 the CIDH has dictated provisional
protective measures for journalists (Marta
Colomina and Liliana Velásquez, reporters for RCTV) media
El Nacional and Así Es la Noticia and Globovisión
), human rights militants (
Liliana Ortega and COFAVIC, Carlos Nieto and José Luis
Uzcátegui) and regular citizens (Eloisa
Barrios and members of her family) who have all been threatened
by parapolice groups or extermination groups comprised of former
or active police officers.
4. A clear indication of the deteriorated situation of human rights in Venezuela is provided by the case of soldiers who are subjected to disciplinary regulations that include even detention in punishment cells, in violation of the most basic human rights. Some of these soldiers have lost their lives in fires which happened to ignite their cells yet to date no one has been indicted for any such incident. The cases of soldiers burned to death while detained in such ignominious punishment cells, are the following:
Ciro Pedreáñez died on May 4, 2004. Another
soldier, Orlando Bustamante, died after 35 days in intensive
care for the severe burns he suffered while detained in a
punishment cell in Fort Mara.
- Soldier José Fébres-Narváez, of the
Army's Special Forces Light Brigade, stationed in Monagas
State, deceased on January 30, 2001, as a consequence of having
been drenched in thinner and ignited, together with three
other soldiers, while in detention in a disciplinary cell,
by Army Lieutenant Alessandro
Rommer José Luján-Martínez (aged 20)
and Raúl Royett-Gutiérrez, (aged 19), members
of the Reserve Battalion stationed at the Gran Mariscal de
Ayacucho Barracks in Cumaná.
5. The National Military Detention Center of Ramo Verde houses a number of
members of the Armed Forces, detained
and indicted for the crime of military rebellion without
having been formally charged and without the benefit of a grounds
of claim trial to which they have a right by law in consideration
of their senior officers status. Even though many of those senior
officers have retired from the Armed Forces, their cases have
not been transferred to civilian courts of justice. Among these
are the following: General (Ret.) Ovidio Poggioli, General (Ret.)
Francisco Usón, Col. Jesús Farías-Rodríguez,
Col. Jesús Castro-Yeyes, Col. Carlos Guerra, Lt. Col.
Humberto Quintero, Lt. Col. Francisco Martínez, Capt.
Javier Nieto, Capt. Rafael Faría Villasmil, Capt. Javier
Quintero, Capt. Otto Guevaguer, Lt. Darwin Valera, Merchant
Marine Capt. Luís Salazar, General Felipe Rodríguez,
alias El Cuervo.
6. Of all the above-mentioned officers, the
only one who has been sentenced is Army Gen. (Ret.) Francisco
Usón, condemned by a Military Court of Justice to
five years and six months imprisonment for expressing an opinion
about what would be the probable impact of a flamethrower weapon
fired at the interior of a detention cell. In the opinion of
Alberto Arteaga-Sánchez, a noted specialist in criminal
law, Gen. Usón should not have been tried by a military
court since at the time the events took place he was already
a retired officer.
7. In May 2004, the Government revealed an alleged attempt to attack Miraflores
Palace by a paramilitary group, composed in its majority of
Colombian citizens. The members of such group were arrested
in a farm located at the outskirts of Caracas . Those involved
in the case, known as that of the 'Paramilitaries', have yet
to be tried after more than a year in detention. Six
Venezuelan officers are also being tried in relation to
this case, among them the: Gen. (Ret.) Ovidio Poggioli - arrested
without charges and brought to trial before a military court,
notwithstanding his civilian condition - Colonels Jesús
Farías- Rodríguez, Jesús Castro-Yelles,
and Captains Javier Quintero-González, Rafael Farías-Villasmil,
and Javier Nieto, who have finally been charged and for whom,
in some cases, a penalty of over twenty-years imprisonment has
8. On April 21, 2005 , Colonel
Darío Faría-Rodríguez, brother of Jesús
Faría-Rodríguez, indicted in the Paramilitaries
Case, was arrested in the neighborhood of Tiuna Fort. Colonel
Darío Farías was charged with possession of a
FAL rifle, hidden in his car's fender. Soon after his arrest,
members of his family denounced he was being subjected to torture.
Neither Darío Farías' lawyers nor his family were
able to establish contact with him for several days and he remained
out of bounds until a commission from the Office of the Peoples'
Advocate was finally able to visit him of May 4, 2005.