A major anti-government protest in Venezuela on February 12 left three student protesters dead and injured dozens of others. As those detained are released from prison, however, the real toll begins to surface. Two protesters released today claim to have been beaten, tortured, and raped with a rifle during their time in jail.
21-year-old Juan Manuel Carrasco and 25-year-old Jorge Luis León relived their detention to Spanish newspaper El Mundo. Carrasco, a Spanish citizen, is seeking to bring his abuses to court there along with León because, in the words of their attorney, “our justice system is crap.”
Carrasco and León were detained in the city of Valencia during the protests and held in custody between 55 and 60 hours. They were both repeatedly beaten, so much so, says León, that “I pretended I was dead so they would take me to the morgue. To make sure I wasn’t dead, they poked me in the anus with a bayonet, and when I jumped, they kicked me.”
León also notes that upon the arrival of the head of the Tocuyito National Guard, the guards allegedly directed a dog to attack them, shouting, “Bite them in the neck!” The dog, León notes, merely licked their wounds. He also told El Mundo that the guards “played soccer” with the two prisoners: “They would kick us in the back and yell ‘¡gol!'”
Carrasco’s account begins to differ after the guards allegedly grew tired of these antics. Carrasco was separated from León and the other prisoners, which the latter thought indicated he would for sure be executed. Instead, Carrasco says, he was raped. In the graphic account Carrasco gave to the judge, he says, “They dropped my pants and stuck the barrel of a rifle in my anus.” Carrasco says he lost consciousness three times during the episode, but each time was slapped in the face so hard he came back to his senses.
He alleges that the guards who raped him were not Venezuelan, but Cuban: “I could tell from their accents.” The regime of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro has close ties to the oldest standing communist tyranny in the Americas, with Maduro making frequent visits to Cuban premier Raúl Castro and his allegedly still alive older brother, Fidel. Venezuelan protesters often remark that they are “a Cuban colony” now and hope to regain independence from the Castro regime.
Despite the horrific, near-North Korea levels of abuse suffered by the two protesters, they tell the newspaper that there seemed to be a logical enough reason for the abuse, and that they might not be the only victims: the soldiers holding them in custody had not slept for 25 hours, they were told, and one guard complained that he was scheduled to be married that day, but the protests had forced him to come into work.
Venezuelan authorities have detained an unknown number of protesters and opposition members in the name of peace in the country, and yesterday detained the leader of the “Popular Will” opposition party, Leopoldo López, currently the most high-profile political prisoner in the country. López is being held on murder and terrorism charges for the deaths of the protesters in the February 12 rally, though witnesses agree the shootings were perpetrated by assassins potentially working for the government. Adding to the obviously political nature of the arrest, protests today in solidarity with López resulted in yet another death, despite his detention: 22-year-old beauty queen Genesis Carmona.