Defenselessness of victims and impunity of Americas’ dictators

Carlos Sánchez Berzaín

A country with political prisoners and exiles is a dictatorship that can only be possible when there is neither the rule of law nor the separation and independence of the branches of government, something that institutionalizes the violation of human rights and basic freedoms and allows State terrorism to exist. The seriousness of the current public and notorious events, is proof that victims in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua don’t have the slightest possibility to defend themselves and endure atrocious persecution, imprisonment, torture, and sentences. It is the defenselessness of the victims and the impunity of Americas’ dictators that appear to be accepted as normal by democratic leaders and governments.

A political prisoner is a person who has been deprived of his freedom because his ideas or acts are taken as a challenge or threat to the government or to the established system. Dictatorships go to the limit to disguise as common prisoners or jailed politicians those who in reality are political prisoners, this is why they have judicialized political repression and persecution, manipulating prosecutors and judges who have become the system’s operators for the violation of rights, guarantees, and freedoms they were charged to protect.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council in its Resolution 1900 dated 3 October of 2012, under the heading “Definition of a Political Prisoner” determines that a person is a “political prisoner” in the following cases: “1. The person has been detained by the violation of any of the basic freedoms established in the Convention of Human Rights or any of its protocols. Specifically, due to the person’s freedom of thought, conscience, religion, freedom of expression or information, freedom to meet or associate; 2. The detention has been mandated for reasons exclusively political without a link to any of the penalized crimes; 3. Due to purely political reasons, the length of time of the detention or the conditions in which the detention is executed are clearly disproportional to the crime he has been charged with and has admitted to have committed or is suspected to have committed; 4. Due to political reasons, the person is detained in a discriminatory manner compared to the detention of other persons; 5. The detention is the result of proceedings that were clearly unjust and this could be related with the authorities’ political motives”.

Several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) certify each month on the number of political prisoners in existence in Cuba (over a thousand), in Venezuela (over 300), in Bolivia (over 75) and in Nicaragua (over 200). The Organization of American States (OAS), validates these certifications and has issued -without success- Resolutions, such as the one in February of 2022 calling for “the immediate release of political prisoners” in Nicaragua.

Human Rights’ organizations accept complaints and certify the torture political prisoners of Castrochavism’s regimes are subjected to, while they are victims of psychological pressure, restrictions, and the suppression of their food or medicines, the detention and persecution of their relatives, and their defense attorneys, beatings, cruelty and assassinations. Their “atrocious sentences” unjustified by the sentences with grossly exaggerated number of years of imprisonment mandated as an effort to criminalize them is the factual reality. In each and every case, each one of the political prisoners in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua is victim of the violation of the concepts of “presumed innocence”, “impartiality of the judge” “legal equality under the law for both parts of the trial”, the “non-retroactivity of the law”, the inexistence of the “legal due-process” and more. All of the so-called trials are based on false narratives that attribute counterfeited facts to the accused. Each and every case of political prisoners is piercing proof of their condition of “absolute defenselessness’ situation”.

Many politically persecuted go to exile, it saves their lives, but turns out to be a cruel punishment due to their expatriation and loss of normal conditions of life. The persecution’s judicialization by the dictatorships does not end in exile where they continue harassing, discrediting, and assassinating their victims’ reputation. For notable victims, Cuba’s dictatorship offers expatriation as an alternative sentence.

Defenselessness, publicly known nationally and internationally, produces fear in the people that do not want to suffer the suffering of their relatives, friends, or neighbors. This is how they are compelled to assume behaviors of being subjected and humiliated that violate their human rights and that would -otherwise- not occur. This is “State terrorism” comprised by “crimes against humanity”, openly committed by the regimes from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua who confess these crimes in their “dictatorial legal system” with “despicable laws” that violate human rights and institutionalize abuse.

*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.

Translation from Spanish by Edgar L. Terrazas

Published in Spanish by Sunday April 17, 2022.

“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.