Venezuelan authorities Monday arrested a 72-year-old woman and her son for mocking President Nicolás Maduro in a Tik Tok video that went viral. They were charged with “incitement to hatred.”
Olga Lucía Mata de Gil was compelled to apologize publicly in another recording which was uploaded to the account of the Attorney General of the Republic, Tarek William Saab, who accused them of instigating the assassination of the president.
The NGO Espacio Público, which promotes and defends freedom of expression, the right to information and social responsibility, said that recording and broadcasting a video exercising their right to freedom of expression in its individual and social dimension, through humor, is not a reason for arrest nor is it a crime.
In the video, a woman is observed while preparing arepas, a typical Venezuelan food made with pre-cooked corn flour. While she is in the process of elaboration, she explains what each one is made of.
Among others, she mentions: ”I have the Hugo Chávez (arepa) with mortadella. I have the Diosdado Cabello (current congressman and former vice-president) which is full of perico (Spanish for parrot and a local way of preparing scrambled eggs) and I have the widow which is Cilia Flores, legislator and wife of President Maduro.
At that moment, a female voice off interrogates her: But she is not a widow yet. Then the woman replies: Well, but that's what we all wish for.
The video also mentions Attorney General Tarek William Saab.
I am Olga Mata, I am making a video to give my apologies publicly to all the people I named in the video, said the woman and listed each of the officials she mentioned. And especially to the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro, to whom I really apologize. It was not my intention. It was humor, she said.
The prosecutor accompanied the video with a message: #DISCULPAS (apologies)... the lady who through her social network called to kill the President of the Republic Nicolás Maduro publicly apologized for her message. The Public Prosecutor's Office charged said woman today with hate crime and the Court agreed on the respective precautionary measure.”
Mata voluntarily turned herself in before the Scientific, Criminal and Criminalistic Investigations Corps (Cicpc) out of fear that her son Florencio Gil Mata would be a victim of physical aggression at the hands of the police. One day after the video went viral, that is, on April 14, Mata's son was arrested although he had nothing to do with the incident.
The arrest warrant was issued by the Fourth Special Court of First Instance with Jurisdiction in Terrorism Matters and signed by Dr. José Márquez García. It was issued on Wednesday, April 13, as shown in the document released by the official party.