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Forced disappearances in Venezuela: Bustillos still missing

By Aleksander Boyd

London 10.12.04 | Silvino Bustillos is yet to appear after 38 days missing. Relatives of him are desperate for the authorities have not informed of his whereabouts and official efforts to find him are nonexistent.

The only person charged in connection to the case is journalist Manuel Isidro Molina, who has been accused by the Minister of Defence Garcia Carneiro of defamation against the armed forces and faces justice in a military tribunal, which needs be stressed, has no jurisdiction over civilian matters.

The regime has proposed various hypotheses as to Bustillos disappearance:

- Military version 1: “We have him under surveillance in a farm and will arrest him on Monday” (three Mondays have come to pass and no arrest has been made).

- Military version 2: “Bustillos is engaged in counter-intelligence work for Chavez, aimed at discovering and accusing members of the army opposed to the regime. The news of his disappearance spoiled the mission and he went hiding in fear of reprisal.

- Political version 1: “Bustillos disappearance is a destabilising plan crafted by the right-wing extremists seeking to overthrow the regime”.

- Political version 2: “The kidnap and disappearance is part of the internal conflicts of “Bloque Democratico”, which agglutinates the least moderate individuals in the right of the political spectrum.

Manuel Isidro Molina has said that the regime wants to intimidate him, by means of presenting a defamation case based on trumped up charges. Either way one fact is certain: Bustillos is yet to appear or to establish communication with his family. The alleged call a few weeks back from Valencia to his sister is believed to have been made by government officials.

38 days and counting…

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