Venezuela | The fate of a lawyer critical of Maduro worries the EU, the United States and the UN

(Caracas) The United States and the EU said Tuesday they were “deeply concerned” by the detention for “conspiracy” of a Venezuelan lawyer critical of the Maduro government, with the UN denouncing a “coordinated plan aimed at reducing silences critics and alleged opponents.

Lawyer Rocio San Miguel, 57, specialist in military issues and director of the NGO “Citizen Control” which monitors human rights violations, was arrested on February 9 at the airport in Caracas while she was was preparing to leave Venezuela.

Along with five members of her family – her daughter, her two brothers, her father and her ex-husband – she was presented before a court specializing in “terrorism” cases and the prosecution requested placement in pre-trial detention ex-spouses.

Mme San Miguel is being prosecuted for “treason”, “conspiracy” and “terrorism”. Her ex-husband José Gonzales De Canales Plaza, a retired Air Force colonel, is being prosecuted for “revealing political and military secrets concerning the security of the nation.”

The other four family members were placed on probation.

“During this hearing, Rocio San Miguel did not have lawyers she trusted to guarantee her right to legal assistance, within the framework of the due process established by Article 44 of the Constitution,” denounced the lawyer’s legal team in a press release. “We do not know the whereabouts of each of these people, so their enforced disappearance continues. Rocio San Miguel has been held in a secret location for 100 hours.”

The lawyer is accused by the authorities of being involved in an alleged conspiracy against President Nicolas Maduro. She allegedly supported a plan to attack a military base near the border with Colombia, with the aim of seizing weapons and assassinating the president.

His arrest comes as the government announced that it had foiled five plots, involving soldiers, journalists and various activists, according to the courts. 36 people were arrested.

“Silence the critics”

The United States, like the European Union, said on Tuesday they were “deeply concerned” by this matter.

The spokesperson for the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, asked on Tuesday on X for the release of the lawyer.

John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US executive branch, said Tuesday during a press conference that “Mr. Maduro must respect the commitments he made last fall on how to deal with the civil society, political activists as well as opposition parties and even Venezuelans who would like to run for office.”

The Maduro government and the opposition reached an agreement in October in Barbados to organize free and transparent general elections in 2024, in the presence of international observers.

In exchange, the United States relaxed its sanctions, notably the oil embargo.

However, the Venezuelan Supreme Court, loyal to Mr. Maduro, recently confirmed the ban on running for elections against the leader of the opposition, Maria Corina Machado, who handily won her camp’s primaries.

The independent fact-finding mission of the United Nations human rights office in Venezuela denounced on Tuesday a “wave of repression against opponents” which is intensifying in the country.

“These are not isolated incidents, but rather a series of events that appear to be part of a coordinated plan to silence perceived critics and opponents,” said Marta Valinas, president of the mission, in a press release.

Francisco Cox, a member of the UN fact-finding mission, argued that “the Venezuelan state has violated the human rights of dozens of people by investigating groups of suspected conspirators.”

The Attorney General of Venezuela, Tarek William Saab, who distils information in dribs and drabs, denounced Tuesday “a fierce campaign waged from abroad against justice and the Venezuelan state.”


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