Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Afiuni judicial story

Still in its wrapping.
Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni was put into jail on Chavez orders and is still waiting for a fair trial even though the regime has been unable to put forward a sustainable proof of a misdeed from her. It is still in the memory of the decent Venezuelans and of all serious international Human Rights organizations the infamous moment when Chavez asked in cadena for her to be put in jail for 30 years, just after she was arrested, without even being officially indicted of any putative crime.  Since then, December 10 2009, judge Afiuni has been languishing in jail and eventually in home arrest when her medical condition and international pressure forced the regime to pull back some of its rage at her.

I bought a couple of weeks ago the journalistic account of the whole ordeal, not only of Judge Afiuni, but also of the other victim, Eligio Cedeño, whose freedom cost Afiuni hers. Freedom of course being a very relative term in Venezuela since Cedeño, informed that Afiuni had been arrested not even within hours of his release went into hiding immediately and now lives in Miami  in an exile that shall be permanent as long as Chavez is alive. No trial for him either, pure vendetta from Chavez  pure totalitarian working of the Venezuelan judicial body.

The book is a journalistic account but can be read as a thriller.The author is Francisco Olivares, one of the top journalists in Venezuela these days. His investigative work has left no major stone unturned. What makes a true impression when you read this book is his care for the telling details, the ones that prove that we are in a totalitarian regime where justice is at the service of the potentate and that Afiuni's arrest makes France's kings "lettre de cachet" a polite notification of your loss of freedom.  When Chavez or one of his acolytes give an order no forms are contemplated and the already pronounced guilty party is dragged to the worse of Venezuelan jails, handcuffed, surrounded by so many military that s/he looks like a mass murderer. Meanwhile streets lack the minimum police patrolling and crime reigns supreme because security forces are there to protect the chavista high ranking, or jail them if necessary.

What was the heinous crime of Afiuni? To grant Eligio Cedeño provisional liberty. The man had been detained for a couple of years without even any serious charge been pressed against him. Afiuni noticed that all judicial regulations pertinent to such a case had been violated and even though Cedeño had shown himself to courts when summoned, he was arrested as if he were a high delinquent.She put him out of jail but with a biweekly presentation to court and interdiction from leaving the country.  What was Cedeño's crime? In the book he does not come clear as to the rumored reasons: that he refused advances from one of Chavez daughters, or business proposal or something  He limits himself to claim that he has no link to another famous case, "Microstar", where apparently there is involvement of Chavez close circle with Gustavo Arraiz. I suppose one day we will know the whole truth but if Cedeño has more involvement with the Chavez group than he cares to admit we cannot blame him from keeping silent on a matter that could cost him his life. After all, the prisoner of el comandante in the book almost died, more than once, while being put to jail upon a Chavez personal emotion.

But the real interest of the book, what makes it so readable, is that Olivares says about the "legal" part only what is needed, focusing his narrative more on the consequences of the corrupt Venezuelan judicial system not only on the two victims of the book, Afiuni and Cedeño, but on the people that interact with them in jail and in court when they have an audience.  It is to be noted that the Venezuelan law was changed recently by presidential decree so that you can have trials in absentia, that way even if you are exiled, or refuse to appear in a court that you consider illegal  like Afiuni is doing, you can still be declared guilty on all counts and thus justify any capricious mood of Chavez, and Maduro, and Diosdado, and...

The book starts early in this tone. When Olivares goes to begin his interviews with Afiuni once she got home detention  he is surprised at the number of guards in her street and in her hallway as is she were a truly dangerous blood thirsty criminal. But the sad fact is that the guards do fight among themselves to be in front of Afiuni's door because her family gives them drink and food, something that the state apparently forgets to do for its own dispatched personnel.

It all goes down from there. Since I started with the humane degradation of guards, I might as well mention that one of the diverse military in charge of her told her that she was not screwing his expected promotion. The official had noted that already whoever showed any leniency with her got his career parked in a dead end. On the other hand, all the judicial personnel that were not afraid of humiliating Afiuni or publishing judicial trash against her got handsome promotions. The message has been clear: be like a Afiuni and hell is yours. In other words, you need to understand that when you are in court you are serving the regime.

The book is a poignant account on how degraded Venezuelan society has become under Chavez, on how so many have become so insensitive  so willing to what is wrong and be rewarded for it. It is truly a descent in hell to read these pages and brings to us the notion that concentration camps may not exist yet in Venezuela but the personnel to run them is already available.  And from Afiuni's stay in jail at the INOF women's jail where among other things she was raped, we gather that Venezuelan concentration camps will be notable.

This is a must read book to understand why Venezuela has stopped being a democracy. We may have elections still but when a judicial system has reached such lows you know that elections are not even a disguise. Or worse, if people vote for Chavez and now what is going on, then........

"Afiuni. La presa del Comandante", 2012, By Francisco Olivares
176 pages, Spanish
ISBN 978-980-7212-22-9

Note: the book says its first printing was April and yet its release was November. How come?  There is a December 2 interview with the writer of the book for more details.


  1. Pero si eso es lo que la mayoría quiere!

    1. ¡Ah! Perdón, no lo habia entendido. Es que nosotros los escuacas somos algo lento.

  2. Anonymous2:57 AM

    Y el cancer ha esparcido a otros paises "hermanos". Googlea (es mi neologismo) Bolivia y Ostreicher.


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