The United States will not invite representatives of the Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, nor of Nicaragua to the Summit of the Americas next month in Los Angeles, Kevin O’Reilly, coordinator of the summit, ratified this Thursday to a Senate committee.
“Absolutely not. We do not recognize them as a sovereign government,” he said when asked about the involvement of the Maduro regime. The United States considers Maduro illegitimate and recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president.
Regarding the participation in the summit of the Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, accused of increasing authoritarianism in his country, O’Reilly also gave a definitive “no.” And when asked if representatives of the Cuban regime would attend, he stated that the White House was in charge of the invitations but that none had been sent “to my knowledge.”
President Joe Biden wants the Summit of the Americas to showcase democracy in Latin America and increase cooperation on migration, a key political priority for the United States.
Tortures, political prisoners and dictatorships
Both in Venezuela, as in Cuba and Nicaragua, there is no respect for human rights, there are hundreds of political prisoners, many opponents are tortured in prison and there is censorship against the independent press. This situation does not seem to be relevant for the Mexican and Argentine presidents, who intend to sit at the same table as the dictators and discuss without questioning their legitimacy.
The Maduro, Díaz-Canel and Ortega regimes are constantly singled out by human rights organizations, NGOs and even the UN for the actions they take against anyone who thinks differently.
In the case of Venezuela, a United Nations mission concluded last March that there were crimes against humanity and said that “the situation of impunity must be addressed.”
Just a few weeks ago, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela presented an oral update of its harsh report to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The president of the Mission, Marta Valiñas, stated that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that there were crimes against humanity in Venezuela.”
“There is a situation of impunity that must be addressed,” she indicated; while she said that “shortly after the publication of the second report, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Court Prosecutor’s Office.”
She then pointed out with concern the “human rights violations committed by State security officials” and that “the lack of data” by the State continues to be an obstacle.
Valiñas stressed that “in recent months, there have been some advances in emblematic cases addressed by the Mission.” However, she reiterated that “the relatives of the victims of human rights violations have the right to participate in the investigations” that are being carried out in the country.
According to the latest balance of the prestigious NGO Foro Penal, there are 237 political prisoners of the regime. Of them, 222 are men, 15 women and one is a minor. In addition, 107 are civilians and 130 military.
Balance de #PresosPoliticos en Venezuela al 23/05/2022 por @ForoPenal:— Foro Penal (@ForoPenal) May 24, 2022
𝗧𝗼𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗼𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝗹í𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗼𝘀: 237
Adolescentes: 1#Infografia #Balance #23My @Almagro_OEA2015 @ONU_derechos @UNHumanRights pic.twitter.com/zeypA1EdLj
The director of the organization, Gonzalo Himiob, indicated that 9,414 people remain subject to “unfair criminal proceedings, for political reasons, under precautionary measures.”
In addition, a few weeks ago, some twenty humanitarian organizations sent a letter to the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, in which they urge him to ask the Venezuelan regime for the release of “political prisoners”, in particular the human rights activist Javier Tarazona.
Tarazona, director of the local NGO Fundaredes, was charged with “incitement to hatred” and “terrorism” after denouncing alleged links between the Maduro regime and Colombian armed groups in Venezuela.
“Box of dolls”, the torture used by the Venezuelan dictatorship in its detention centers
The Venezuelan dictatorship continues to use brutal methods of torture in its detention centers, despite attempts to be collaborative with the High Commission for Human Rights, denounced activist Tamara Suju, executive director of the Casla Institute.
“Doll box” is the name used by the regime for this method that is being applied by the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence.
“They place detainees in a 60cm x 60cm space. They leave them there for hours, some have spent up to three nights,” explained an illustration from the Casla Institute, in a preview of the report it presented on human rights violations in Venezuela.
The limited space means that detainees, usually politically persecuted, have to stand and have practically no room to sit or squat without bumping into the walls.
The publication included the testimony of a victim who was tortured in the place, and who detailed the physical and psychological effects suffered: “I spent three days in that kind of box, without water and food, without air, completely black, and I thought I saw lights and shadows and that spoke to me. I fainted three times from exhaustion, I peed and the walls held me, I was hallucinating.
The situation in Cuba
After the massive and unprecedented peaceful demonstrations that took place on the island on July 11, the Castro dictatorship increased the persecution and violence against any voice that is raised against it. This is how he carried out and continues to carry out numerous trials in which he sentences those who participated in the street protests to long years in prison.
The Supreme Court has already sentenced more than 120 people for “violently subverting the constitutional order” due to the 11J protests on the island, for which those sentenced have received sentences of between 4 and 30 years in prison.
“The Court has notified the sentences, in which it has considered proven and demonstrated that on July 11, 2021, in the Toyo Corner, municipality of Diez de Octubre, obeying instructions given by people both from Cuba and from abroad, the accused, they tried to subvert the constitutional order in a violent way,” reported the highest court of the Cuban dictatorship in a press release for one of the trials, held between December 14 and February 3.
The citizens were “accused of committing and provoking serious disturbances and acts of vandalism, with the purpose of destabilizing public order, collective security and citizen tranquility.”
The political prisoners of the Díaz-Canel dictatorship
In its latest report, published on May 5, Prisoners Defenders stated that more than 1,200 people were deprived of liberty in the last 12 months.
The NGO denounced that from May 1, 2021 to April 30 of this year, a total of 1,218 people have suffered political imprisonment in Cuba. “At this specific moment, with data closing as of April 30, 2022, the list of political prisoners in Cuba contains 1,015 prisoners suffering judicial sentences, as well as provisions limiting their freedom by prosecutors without any judicial supervision, in flagrant violation of international law and due process,” the NGO said.
It also stated that 874 of the political prisoners are in jail for the massive peaceful demonstrations of last July 11.
“We reflect these 1,015 verified political prisoners, as every month, in the list of Prisoners Defenders of Cuba, which we make public and distribute in all political, diplomatic and human rights defense spheres,” the organization continued.
He then underlined that “with 145 political prisoners, the month of May of last year began. From then until April 30, 2022, another 1,073 new political prisoners have been added to the first 145, giving a total of 1,218 political prisoners during these last 12 months.”
The panorama in Nicaragua
Daniel Ortega’s regime carried out a wave of arrests in the framework of the presidential elections on November 7 and is still going on. More than 170 critics of the dictatorship are currently imprisoned in Nicaragua in the context of the political crisis that the country has been experiencing since the anti-government protests of 2018, according to human rights organizations and families.
Among them, 46 were arrested before the November elections, including seven potential electoral rivals of Ortega, who ended up winning a fourth consecutive term since 2007, considered illegitimate by the United States, Canada, the European Union and most Latin American countries. .
This month, Emily Mendrala, deputy assistant secretary for the Americas at the US State Department, said that the Joe Biden administration maintains “a range of bilateral communication” with Managua and continues to “press for the release of political prisoners.”
“Without a doubt, the immediate release of political prisoners in the hands of the regime continues to be one of the main priorities of the United States in Nicaragua,” the diplomat assured during a forum organized by the Inter-American Dialogue think tank.
“The regime imprisoned these people for wanting nothing more and demanding nothing less than democracy, justice and respect for human rights,” she stressed; denouncing not only “unfair imprisonment” but also “deplorable conditions” of deprivation of liberty, with denial of access to legal representation and medicine.
The United States has applied sanctions to 46 people and nine entities in Nicaragua since December 2017, including several members of the Ortega Murillo clan. In addition, it took steps to apply visa restrictions to more than 280 Nicaraguans.
“We will continue to use these diplomatic and economic tools to increase pressure,” Mendrala promised.
The condemnation of the Ortega dictatorship against the candidates who tried to confront him
The fierce hunt that the Daniel Ortega regime unleashed against the possible presidential candidates of the opposition, ended last month with sentences of between eight and 13 years in prison against all of them.
Ortega secured a fourth consecutive term as head of the Nicaraguan government through an electoral process that the opposition considered “a farce” and that even arrested between June 2 and July 24 seven of the possible candidates with the highest popularity ratings.
In this way, Ortega competed on November 7 only against unknown candidates, from parties related to his regime.
“The declaration of guilt against the seven rivals who tried to confront Ortega and Murillo is the consummation of the persecution and political prosecution against any leadership or opposition force that aspired to dispute power through the vote,” said the independent organization Urnas Abiertas, that from exile and underground has followed the Nicaraguan electoral process.
The organization highlighted the multiple violations of the judicial process to which the regime resorted to remove these candidates from the game who, according to various independent polls, would have beaten Daniel Ortega in fair and free competitions.
A survey by the CID-Gallup firm, conducted in September 2021, revealed that 65% of Nicaraguans would have voted for any of the seven candidates who are in jail and only 19% would have voted for Ortega.
Potential opposition candidates were caught in an intense police raid against political leaders, journalists, businessmen and analysts.
Among the violations that the Sandinista regime carried out against the judicial process of political prisoners, Urnas Abiertas points out the arbitrary arrests, raids without a court order and without delivering a certificate of occupation of property, unjustified extension of preventive detention for more than 90 days established by the law, violation of the presumption of innocence, breach and rejection of habeas corpus remedies, and the right to be tried by impartial judges, among others.
Likewise, the relatives of the political prisoners denounced the particular viciousness with which the regime has acted against them by keeping them isolated, with scant food rations, visits every two months, and without the right to meet with their lawyers.