The CASLA Institute, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) based in the Czech Republic that monitors democracy in Latin America, presented on March 11, 2022 to the Organization of American States (OAS) the report Crimes against Humanity in Venezuela 2021, which shows the chain of command within the Nicolás Maduro regime and the intensification of tortures against political prisoners.
“The systematic violation of human rights in Venezuela is something permanent, frequent. The world cannot and should not get used to hearing the stories of misery, horror, torture that Venezuelans suffer,” said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, at the presentation of the report.
This is the fifth report the CASLA Institute has carried out. The investigation is part of the technical and evidentiary support to be used in the process initiated before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Maduro regime for systematic human rights violations and crimes against humanity, Voice of America reported.
According to the investigation, between January 2021 and January 2022, there were 18 new incidences in Venezuela against 32 civilians and 23 service members, where these 55 people were victims of arbitrary detentions, forced disappearance, physical torture, white torture (extreme sensory deprivation), and cruel and degrading treatment.
The main charges against them are mostly for alleged crimes of conspiracy, treason, rebellion, instigation of rebellion, and terrorism, the report said.
CASLA found that the Maduro regime resorts to new torture methods, which elicited extreme pain in the victim, even to the brink of death, and that regime officials use different mechanisms to restore their heart rate and continue torturing them.
Among the new torture methods are submerging the victim naked in a freezing well until they present symptoms of hypothermia, injecting unknown substances, and conducting mock executions, for the enjoyment and pleasure of the tormentors, “as if it were a Roman forum,” Tamara Suju, CASLA executive director, said.
Chain of command
“The dictatorship knows what goes on in interrogation and torture centers in states and cities of Venezuela,” Almaro said. “The entire military and civilian leadership are aware of the planning, inducement, and commission of the crimes denounced in the International Criminal Court,” Suju said.
The officers and officials have a direct line to Maduro for the approval of false proceedings for the systematic persecution of opponents, civilians, and service members, she said.
At least once a month, the leadership of intelligence agencies, the justice system, and law enforcement meet in the offices of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM, in Spanish), she added.
The chain of command has the support of people who have proven their loyalty and evil, who have no scruples whatsoever in committing any kind of crime, and even do it because they like it, the annual report indicates.
As in other CASLA reports, this one also presents evidence of the Cuban regime’s involvement. The report refers to the Cuban Counterintelligence Manual, as fundamental principles that govern DGCIM personnel.
A serving Venezuelan official told CASLA that the Cubans give them advice such as, “you can see that these are the same methods we use in Cuba, and in all these years we have never been overthrown; we have always remained in power […]; here we bring it to you, so that you can work along this manual.”
“Cuba commits crimes against humanity in Venezuela,” Suju said. “Cuba is fully implicated in committing torture and planning repression in Venezuela.” CASLA is preparing a formal complaint against the Cuban regime before the ICC on this issue, she said.
“Today our brother Roland Carreño has been unjustly abducted in the dungeons of the dictatorship for one year and five months. Just like Roland, more than 240 political prisoners, civilian, and service members, continue to be detained for the simple fact of wanting and fighting for the freedom of Venezuela,” Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, wrote on Twitter on March 26.
On October 26, 2020, Carreño, a journalist, was arrested and imprisoned at the headquarters of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN, in Spanish), according to the French NGO Reporters Without Borders. Carreño is falsely accused of money laundering, financing terrorism, criminal conspiracy, and illegal trafficking in war weapons.
“Crimes against humanity are still there, systematic torture is still there, extrajudicial executions are still there, political prisoners are still there,” Almagro concluded.