After the presidential election in Venezuela on May 20, in which President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected, a wave of arrests has been reported among Venezuelan military in several parts of the country. As well as releases and new arrests of civilians and soldiers for political reasons.
Accused of mutiny, instigation of the mutiny, crimes against military decorum and treason, 11 Navy and Air Force officers were imprisoned in Ramo Verde prison between Wednesday and Thursday, reports the Venezuelan NGO Foro Penal (Criminal Forum).
These arrests adds to the 70 military prisoners for political reasons, of which 40 have been arrested during this year. So far this year there are already 40 soldiers detained for political reasons, Criminal Forum explained.
This announcement came after the executive director of the NGO, Alfredo Romero, informed through his Twitter account that Venezuelan courts issued release orders for at least 20 civilian detainees linked to the protests against Maduro's government.
”I have ordered (...) to take the proclamation and turn it into a document, to be signed by the entire Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), in order to carry out a process of remoralization, reactivation of the moral and ideological, conceptual values of each official until the last command to arrive with the word of truth, the Venezuelan president shouted in front of cadets in Caracas.
Maduro said from a celebration act of his re-election in front of several platoons of military schools in Caracas that several soldiers intended to participate in a conspiracy to prevent the presidential elections last Sunday. Maduro ordered the military high command that the Armed Forces must sign a document of loyalty to the regime.
Maduro feels unstable and his main threat comes not from the opposition or from the United States, but from the bosom of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces. If something is clear is that never, in 20 years of revolution, so many commando officers have been prosecuted for rebellion or crimes against the homeland as in the Maduro government,”explained lawyer Rocío San Miguel, specializing in issues related to the Military body and president of the NGO Control Ciudadano (Citizens' Control).
The journalist Sebastiana Barráez said in an interview to the Colombian channel NTN24 that the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) is imploding because of the generalized crisis in Venezuela. ''A big storm is stirring the National Armed Forces. With the call to the (pro-government conformed) Constituent Assembly a fracture has been created that has not been resolved and what is happening now is due to a similar situation with the elections, taking into consideration that the FAN saw with much distrust the call to elections that did not end to be transparent, explained Barráez, referring to what happened after the criticized presidential elections last Sunday. It is no longer a coup d'etat, it is that the Armed Forces are watering,” the journalist added.
Torture and military courts
José Alberto Marulanda, a surgeon who maintained a romantic relationship with an officer of the Navy accused of attending meetings to execute a military uprising was arrested by uniformed officers of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (Dgcim) on May 20 - elections day-.
El Pitazo reports that it was not until Thursday, May 24, that the civilian doctor was presented before military courts to receive charges. The director of Criminal Forum, Alfredo Romero, noted that the doctor reported the loss of sensitivity in his hands because he was hanged by handcuffs and had lost his hearing in his right ear for a supposed blow.
Romero denounced that the man was not allowed to defend himself at the court, because he was entered into the military complex through the back door. The military judge charged him with the crimes of instigating hatred and treason; the latter is the most serious accusation in the Venezuelan penal legislation, both civil and military.
On the other hand, on Saturday, May 26, the release of US citizen Joshua Holt, who had been arrested in 2016 on charges of alleged illicit possession of weapons of war, terrorism and espionage, was announced.
US President Donald Trump reported through his Twitter account the release of the Mormon from Utah, after US Senator Bob Corker met with President Maduro at the government palace in Caracas.
This release is part of a process of tension that has taken place in the military intelligence prison of El Helicoide in recent weeks, where Holt was held when several prisoners detained for political reasons undertook a day of peaceful protests in order to enforce letters of release and transfer that weigh on some of the inmates.