Conflicts & War

Venezuelan workers demand release of 6 trade unionists jailed since July 2022

Caracas, May 15 (EFE).- Around 30 Venezuelan workers protested on Monday outside the national ombudsman’s office in this capital to demand the release of six trade unionists jailed for nearly a year on criminal conspiracy charges.

Alcides Bracho, Alonso Melendez, Emilio Negrin, Gabriel Blanco, Reynaldo Cortes and Nestor Astudillo were arrested last July after being accused by a “cooperating patriot,” one of the workers’ attorneys, Eduardo Torres, said, referring to anonymous informants who provide information to Venezuelan authorities about suspected conspiracy plots.

“These colleagues were arbitrarily jailed due to a complaint by a ‘cooperating patriot,’ in other words, someone whose real name, identity card number, is unknown to us. It’s been more than 10 months and Prosecutor’s Office 74 has not been able to get that cooperating patriot to appear” in court to testify, he added in remarks to reporters outside the national ombudsman’s office.

Ombudsman Alfredo Ruiz must speak out on a situation that amounts to a human rights violation and launch an investigation, Torres said.

The attorney said complaints have been filed with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN-established Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela and the International Labor Organization.

Last Sept. 30, Belsai Yanez, spokeswoman for a group that fights for the release of political prisoners in Venezuela, spoke to Efe and slammed the Venezuelan court’s decision to hold the workers in pre-trial detention, a ruling based on purported “counter-revolutionary messages” and the testimony of an anonymous witness who “accused them of (something) impossible to carry out.”

In a press release that same day, that group said the detainees had been accused, without evidence, of “wanting to attack a military recruitment office in (the western state of) Merida, kidnap the parents of (former) Petroleum Minister Tareck El Aissami and commit acts of sabotage on July 5 against (Venezuelan President) Nicolas Maduro.” EFE


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