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Security Forces Detain Leader of “SOS Venezuela” Campaign

On the evening of May 7, economist and human rights activist Rodrigo Diamanti was detained by Venezuela's Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN, for its Spanish acronym), at the international airport in Caracas, and taken to SEBIN’s headquarters. Diamanti was held for approximately 48 hours and then released on probation. According to his lawyer, Nizar El Fakih, Diamanti has been prohibited from leaving the country.

Protest in Venezuela. Photo by Gabriel Bastidas (@Gbastidas) via Twitter.

Protest in Venezuela. Photo by Gabriel Bastidas (@Gbastidas) via Twitter.

According to the pro-government news portal “La Iguana”, Diamanti is being charged with “connection with the obstruction of public highways and possession of explosive devices” at the location of his NGO's office in Caracas. Diamanti is the president and founder of “Un Mundo Sin Mordaza” (A World Without the Gag), the NGO behind the campaign “SOS Venezuela” and “Your voice is your power.” Just a week prior, the offices of the NGO were raided by hooded SEBIN officials (ES).

This episode, unfortunately typical of the current environment of repression and censorship in Venezuela, represents merely another chapter in the social crisis that started with the death of Hugo Chavez last year and peaked in February, when protests, now in their third month, began. Last Thursday morning, the National Guard disbanded two camps in Caracas where students had been protesting for several weeks and arrested 243 people. While some have been released on probation and others have been imprisoned and issued charges, most are remain in detention and are waiting to have charges brought against them. Meanwhile, political opposition leaders and businessmen continue meeting with government officials at the so-called “negotiation table” which has thus far has yielded little to no progress.

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