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The Bustillos case and justice in Venezuela's revolution

By Miguel Octavio

16.11.04 | It has now been two weeks since Silvino Bustillos' disappearance and as usual the Chavez Government has made a masterful job of making it a non-issue, but anyone that analyzes the details should be very disturbed by the whole affair and how it has been handled. I don’t know if Bustillos disappeared on his own or was abducted and tortured. What I do know is that his disappearance has followed a pattern of illegalities and in the end the only thing being investigated is those that reported him missing. Let’s look:

--Bustillos was on line to vote on Oct. 31st. when motorcycles, with two people on it, show up and attempt to arrest him. The people trying to arrest him identify themselves; Bustillos calls his wife and tells her the names. According to the Minister of Defense Bustillos was creating an “incident”, but none of the witnesses at the voting center recall any disturbance but the arrival of the armed military intelligence members. The crowd waiting to vote defends Bustillos who has a chance to escape.

--Bustillos goes to the Baruta police station where he is followed by the military intelligence officers. At the station they attempt to detain him, but a prosecutor is there and asks for an arrest warrant which the officers did not have. In fact, The Minister of Defense says the officers were following Bustillos, but he has never revealed why. It is not legal to do what they were doing it without a prosecutor ordering it. Moreover, the Minister has acknowledged that those following Bustillos are the same people the missing Colonel identified on the phone.

--Bustillos leaves, goes towards the building where he lives and has not been seen since then.

--Reporter Manuel Isidro Molina reports his sources tell him that Bustillos was detained tortured and died in the cells of military intelligence.

--Bustillos reportedly called his 68 year old sister who says she thought it was him only because the voice called her by a specific name few people use with her. Nothing has been heard since from Bustillos.

--The Minister of Justice says Bustillos, whose wife claims does not drink, was simply having a good time and partying.

--The Minister of Defense opens a procedure against the reporter for defamation under military law.

So, we have the illegality of Bustillos being followed, that of trying to arrest him without an order, the illegality of trying a reporter under military law, but the first two are not even being considered.

Could Bustillos or his family sue the Minister of Justice for saying he was partying?

I bet nothing would ever be done in such a case. But the case against the reporter will now continue even if nobody can actually prove that Bustillos is alive or not. Venezuelan justice only considers now cases brought by the Government against the opposition. Whether defamation or corruption, it is only opposition officials, who are a minority, who are being persecuted and indicted for whatever charges while the hundreds of corruption cases involving Chavez or his cohorts are simply being ignored and set aside. Only today Primero Justicia Mayor Henrique Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez were called to the Prosecutor's office to charge them with a new crime (remember Capriles was freed on a different charge). Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that they both got 80% of the votes and if found guilty they have to resign their positions and may never hold public office again.

Also today, the president of the Carabobo Electoral Board was jailed as the intelligence police DISIP took over the regional Electoral Board where the tallies of the Governor's race are being held. The Intelligence police is denying acces to the opposition political parties in another act of totalitarism. Do they have something to hide? Obviously they do...

This is what is called justice and democracy under this so called revolution.



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