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UN report on Venezuela: how the torture took place and who is part of the chain of command of the dictatorship that ordered it

The UN Independent International Investigation Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (FFMV) published this Tuesday its third annual report in which it denounces the crimes against humanity committed by the intelligence services that respond to the dictator Nicholas Maduro.

The report details, among other things, the operation of the chain of command and the modus operandi of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) and the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN). Despite Maduro’s power in SEBIN, several witnesses interviewed by the Mission confirmed that the ruling deputy and Chavismo’s number two, Diosdado Cabello, also has significant ascendancy in the organization. However, it is Maduro who has the power to appoint the general directors of both organizations.

Witnesses who spoke with the Mission said that Cabello has relationships of trust with SEBIN officials, especially with Gustavo González López, current Director General of the agency, and with Carlos Calderón Chirinos, another high-ranking officer of the service.

According to military officer and former head of SEBIN Cristopher Figuera, Maduro decided who would be tortured, who would remain in detention, and who would be released. Another former SEBIN agent assured that the torture was mostly ordered by González López and Calderón Chirinos. “If the SEBIN agents refused to participate in the acts of torture, Calderón Chirinos beat them to intimidate them ‘and thus gain respect,'” the report states.

The document also mentions Iván Rafael Hernández Dala, who has served as General Director of the DGCIM since 2014. Witnesses who spoke with the Mission stated that since Hernández Dala heads the DGCIM, he has progressively reported more directly to Maduro than to the Ministry of Defending. Hernández Dala has been the target of various international sanctions for human rights violations.

In the direction of the Hernández Dala office appears Lieutenant Colonel (GNB) Alexander Enrique Granko Arteaga, who directs his own group in the Directorate of Special Affairs (DAE). He is considered one of the officials who acts with the greatest cruelty in human rights violations. Mission sources said that Granko Arteaga also reports directly to Maduro.

According to the report, the detainees were taken to the SEBIN headquarters in Plaza Venezuela or to El Helicoide, an old shopping center in Caracas. One of the habitual practices of the SEBIN was to keep the detainee incommunicado for hours, days or weeks. In some cases, they were short-term enforced disappearances. His whereabouts remained unknown for between one day and 12 weeks. A former SEBIN agent told the Mission that the service also had safe or clandestine houses in all the states of Venezuela, generally in remote areas, which were used as clandestine detention centers. The report specifies that the houses are confiscated by the National Anti-Drug Office (ONA)] or by the SEBIN itself to later turn them into hiding places or places of torture.

SEBIN agents interrogated detainees without lawyers and did not allow contact with them. They were asked about their connections with opposition politicians, their participation in political protests, their receipt of international funding, or their involvement in alleged conspiracies or other crimes against the regime. They were also forced to film statements under duress or torture. Some denounced that they were tortured into revealing the passwords of their social networks and email accounts.

Victims said they were forced under duress to film statements incriminating themselves for acts they had not committed, many of which were made public. One detainee explained that she was required to record a statement several times because, according to the agent who was filming her, the “boss didn’t like it.”

Eight methods of torture

Regarding torture, the report states that the acts began as “mistreatment, such as denying food or water, and then became more severe, depending on the reaction of the victim and/or the attitude of the officials involved.”

The Mission documented the following acts of torture, sexual violence, and other ill-treatment against detainees:

• stress positions called the “crucifixion” (arms outstretched and handcuffed to tubes or grids) and “the octopus” (a metal belt with chains attached to immobilize the wrist and ankles);

• suffocation with plastic bags, chemicals, or a bucket of water;

• beatings, sometimes with a stick or other blunt objects;

• electric shocks to the genitals or other parts of the body;

• threats of death or further violence;

• Threats of rape against the victim and/or her relatives;

• forced nudity even in rooms kept at extremely low temperatures;

• being chained for long periods of time.

The forceful report, to which Infobae had access, concludes that the intelligence agencies of the Venezuelan civil and military state function as well-coordinated structures “in the execution of a plan orchestrated at the highest levels of government to repress dissent through crimes of It hurts humanity”.

In this sense, the UN investigators detail the functions and contributions of various officials of the Chavista regime at the different levels of the chains of command within the intelligence agencies.

“Our investigations and analyzes show that the Venezuelan State relies on the intelligence services and their agents to repress dissent in the country. By doing so, serious crimes and human rights violations are being committed, including acts of torture and sexual violence,” said Martha Valiñas, president of the UN Mission, who also urged the Chavista authorities to investigate these cases.

“These practices must cease immediately, and those responsible must be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the law,” she added.

The report of the UN Mission in Venezuela:

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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