Another political prisoner has died in Venezuela in police custody. It is the indigenous leader of the ethnic group pemón, Salvador Franco, who was sent to the El Rodeo prison, on the outskirts of Caracas, after the regime of Nicolas Maduro involved him in Operation Aurora, an alleged assault on a military barracks in December 2019 in Bolívar state, in southern Venezuela. The 44-year-old man had a court order since November to be transferred to a hospital but the request was ignored and this Sunday he died without medical attention, according to the NGO Foro Penal.
Franco would have presented symptoms of malnutrition and illnesses related to unhealthiness of the place where he was detained. The prison system in Venezuela accumulates legal problems, among which stand out the procedural delay, overcrowding, the precarious state of the prisons, the absence of a classification of prisoners, the lack of essential basic services. According to the NGO, Franco came to manifest symptoms of suffering from Covid-19.
Quickly, the acting president, Juan Guaidó, denounced that it is an “assassination” of the Maduro regime and assured that it is “a pattern of this regime, persecution, kidnapping, torture and even political murder and that is why they are designated as criminals against humanity and investigated by the international Justice ».
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, also echoed the news and sent a message on Twitter to condemn “the death by torture of the Venezuelan political prisoner of the Pemón ethnic group Salvador Franco. Another crime of the dictatorship in Venezuela ».
“The health of the Pemón indigenous political prisoner Salvador Franco has seriously deteriorated. Today it cannot even feed itself. His life and health are the direct responsibility of those who keep him unjustly imprisoned, “Foro Penal warned on December 24.
The Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office, one of the institutions that collaborates with the Nicolás Maduro regime, accused Salvador Franco and twelve other Pemons of terrorists for allegedly participating in the Operation Aurora. In January 2020, the prosecutor Tareck William Saab, said that the alleged assailants loaded with “131 rifles, 9 cannons, 5 grenade launchers, 5 shotguns, 2 machine gunners, 209 grenades, 99 bayonets and thousands of cartridges with ammunition for all these weapons.” All weapons were recovered. And although the indigenous people denied the accusation, they were also sent to prison where they also suffered degrading and inhuman treatment. For that assault, they also charged five soldiers, but they managed to escape to Brazil.
According to some local media, Salvador Franco worked as a tour guide in Canaima National Park, in Bolívar state, on the border with Brazil, and demanded by tourists for its imposing tepuis and its extensive nature. In Venezuela there are 356 political prisoners, according to Foro Penal, a figure that has also been certified by the OAS. Of that number, 330 are men and 26 women; and of them, 226 are civilians, 130 military, and two are adolescents. According to the NGO report, since 2014, 15,661 political arrests have been registered in the South American country. On that list, updated on December 8, 2020, was Franco.
Mutiny of common prisoners
On the other hand, this Monday it was learned that the inmates of the Tocuyito prison, in the Carabobo state, in the center of the country, started a riot over the weekend to protest the lack of food. The confirmation was made by the Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons (OVP), which explained that “hunger and penitentiary neglect in Venezuela are causing serious damage within the Tocuyito prison, where the prisoners say they have not eaten meat or meat for more than three months. chicken and its daily intake is based on water with few grains of rice or pasta.
In the protest they would have participated at least 160 inmates, who have burned mattresses and other objects on the roof of the prison since January 1, and remained mutinied until the next day.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism