No Trial, No Hearing: Venezuelan Students Remain Imprisoned


The imprisoned students’ hearing has been deferred

Espa帽ol“If we don’t receive an answer soon, I will chain myself. Wherever I’m heard, that’s where I will go,” Damelis Veracierta,聽told El Nacional聽newspaper. She is the mother of one of the seven Venezuelan students who were expected to have their preliminary hearing on Tuesday. After almost three months of imprisonment, they have seen no charges, nor a trial.

However, the Bolivarian National Intelligence Agency (SEBIN) refused to transport the students to court, so their hearing has been deferred to July 29 at 9:00 a.m. local time. As yet more time ticks away, parents have chained themselves in front of the city’s UN Programs for Development (PNUD) offices as a sign of protest, just as their children did until they were detained.

“[The parents] are also a part of this conflict; you can imagine what they feel when they hear back from their kids and this happens, or worse, when they don’t hear back at all,” said student leader Juan Requesens to the PanAm Post.

Parents of imprisoned students chained themselves in front of the UN offices, just like their children did when they were detained.

脕ngel Contreras, Gerardo Resplandor, Gerardo Carrero, Abril Tovar, Nixon Leal, Anderson Brice帽o, and Dioris Albarr谩n are among 30 students who were detained on May 8, after the police聽dismantled their “camp.” They had occupied an area in front of the PNUD’s office, asking the United Nations to send a commission to evaluate the violent situation and human rights abuses in Venezuela.

El dirigente estudiantil, Juan Requesens, manifest贸 su apoyo a los j贸venes que aguardan por la audiencia preliminar
Student leader, Juan Requesens, calls for support. (Facebook)

“Yesterday the government decided they weren’t going to let our friends attend the hearing they had set 鈥 Those in government once again show their cruel side,” said聽Requesens. “It is not only a human rights violation, but an autocratic ruling.鈥 The government keeps showing their arbitrary, militaristic, and authoritarian side,” added聽the Venezuela Central University聽student.

Family and friends of the detainees had been waiting at the court from the early hours of the morning. Upon hearing the news, they went to the聽SEBIN headquarters.

脕ngel Contreras’s mother, Katiuska Ravelo, says that they asked for an explanation, but the authorities refused to address the crowd: “The court released two different transfer聽orders, one at 7 a.m. and one at 10 a.m., and they did not transfer our children,” she explained.

Gaby Arellano, student coordinator for the Popular Will party, called upon the prosecutors and judgeds who are working on the case: “You have the chance to vindicate this country’s justice system and stop acting as political murderers who follow the Venezuelan Socialist Party’s decisions.鈥 We want justice,聽and freedom for all our classmates who were fighting in the “camps”. We refuse to believe all judges follow this government’s instructions.”

Today we witnessed another judicial atrocity; our friends were not taken to the court, even after the order had been processed. The SEBIN’s director mocked us.

Carlos Vargas, a student leader from Andr茅s Bello Catholic University (UCAB), insisted that students will continue the struggle聽for the future of the country and for democracy: “Today we are outraged that the聽democratic principles that are the basis of the republic, have been violated 鈥 We are victims of constant human rights abuses, and we will continue to fight peacefully.”

Campamentos de estudiantes antes de su desmantelamiento
Students’ camps before they were dismantled by police forces. (PanAm Post)

In February, opposition leaders Leopoldo L贸pez,Mar铆a Corina Machado聽and聽Antonio Ledezma, together with students, led a series of peaceful protests as a response to the national crisis, high inflation rates, food shortages, and the climate of insecurity. Since March, students have been camping out in different parts of the capital, to continue the protest against the crisis the country is experiencing.

La Salida, as it has come to be known, gave rise to a series of student-led protests 鈥 some of which did turn violent 鈥 and the regime responded with repression. This resulted in at least 43 individuals losings聽their lives and 878 injured. According to the 聽Penal Forum, an NGO providing legal aid, 3,220 students have been detained, of which 233 were underage at the time.


On Wednesday, in a related development, Leopoldo L贸pez’s trial began. He could face聽up to 10 years in prison if he is found guilty of fostering violence during February’s anti-government protests.

L贸pez’s defense last week asked for the jury to postpone the trial, because the evidence they presented had聽yet to be accepted. Juan Carlos Guti茅rrez, one of L贸pez’s lawyers, said L贸pez has not had a fair trial, as the minimum legal guarantees have been violated.

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