Venezuelan Political Police Arrests 85-Year-Old Intellectual

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HRF strongly condemns the violent raid and arbitrary arrest of Venezuelan historian Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko.

NEW YORK (February 2, 2018) - The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) strongly condemns the violent raid and arbitrary arrest of Venezuelan historian Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko and calls on the Venezuelan dictatorship to release him immediately. Mr. Aristeguieta is an 85-year-old Venezuelan attorney, historian and politician who played a key role in the 1950s removal of General Marco Perez-Jiménez—Venezuela’s previous military dictator. Mr. Aristeguieta has been vocal equating the Maduro dictatorship to that of General Perez-Jimenez. At around 3 a.m. this morning twelve heavily-armed agents from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) raided the house of Mr. Aristeguieta’s nephew, where Mr. Aristeguieta was staying, and went on to detain him without showing any search or arrest warrants, as required by law. The arrest came as a response to a January 23 YouTube clip by Mr. Aristeguieta calling on the armed forces to disobey Maduro.

“Maduro once again is proving that he is a dictator by continuing to imprison people that call him such,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “We wish we could say we’re surprised with his latest act of brutality against an honorable and elderly man, but Maduro has accustomed the international community to a degree of mercilessness that is proving hard to predict. The dictatorship needs to free Mr. Aristeguieta immediately.”

The security agents took Mr. Aristeguieta to an undisclosed location, which would be later confirmed as the SEBIN headquarters in El Helicoide. His family has not been able to communicate with him since. In a phone call from Geneva, María Alejandra Aristeguieta-Álvarez, a former diplomat and Mr. Aristeguieta’s daughter, told HRF that the SEBIN agents who detained her father were in somewhat disbelief that they had been sent to imprison an elderly man, so they eventually allowed him to take his medications with him.

Ms. Aristeguieta-Álvarez is concerned for his health. “He is an old man and thus he has health conditions of all kinds: he has glaucoma, problems with his thyroid, problems with his kidneys, as well as blood pressure issues,” she said. “He is a moral and political authority in Venezuela. We believe that the message he gave on January 23 triggered the regime's anger because he reminded the regime of who they really are,” she concluded.

You can watch Mr. Aristeguieta’s January 23 four-minute video in Spanish here.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

For press inquiries contact Prachi Vidwans — Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246-8486 , prachi@hrf.org.

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