LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN

Home / POLITICAL PRISONERS / BY REGION / LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN

why it matters

Some countries in the region have cracked down on civil society and have increased arrests of civil society activists. Civil society activists in Cuba and Venezuela in particular are facing increased pressure and arbitrary arrests. In Venezuela, the country is facing serious challenges.  With extremely high inflation and increasing citizen insecurity in recent years, tensions between the authorities and reform-minded citizens keep rising.  In February and March 2014, police arrested hundreds of people who were protesting soaring prices, shortages of basic products, and consistent abuse by security forces.  Although the Cuban government has appeared to bow to international community’s demands of ending civil society intimidation, the Cuban government has maintained tight control over public space. While long-term sentences for political prisoners have lessened to some extent, the government still uses short-term arbitrary arrests, harassment, and threat to stifle fundamental freedoms. Today, Cuba still has more than 70 political prisoners according to independent civil society groups on the island.

Wilmer Azuaje

VENEZUELA

Detained May 3, 2017

Wilmer Azuaje is a member of the legislative council in Venezuela’s Barinas state who was detained and sentenced for attending protests, despite parliamentary immunity. While detained, Wilmer was held incommunicado for 70 days. We spoke with his wife to learn more about his unjust imprisonment and what their family’s life was like without him.

Gregory Sanabria

VENEZUELA

Detained October 27, 2014

Gregory Sanabria is a student activist who was arbitrarily detained for almost four years for participating in 2014 demonstrations. While in prison, Gregory was tortured with beatings, electric shocks, and by being dunked in cold water. We spoke with his sister to learn more about his unjust imprisonment and the sacrifices her family made for Gregory to have access food, water, and sunlight while imprisoned.

Gilber Caro

VENEZUELA

Detained January 11, 2017

Gilber Caro is a former parliamentarian with the Venezuela National Assembly who was detained for over a year and a half. In prison, Gilber was tortured and lost over 40 pounds. His sister tells us more about the devastating impact his imprisonment has had on his family, and implores the international community to speak out on behalf of political prisoners in Venezuela.

Irlanda Jerez

NICARAGUA

Detained July 18, 2018

Irlanda Jerez is a dentist and civil society organizer, imprisoned for leading a civil disobedience campaign in the country’s largest market, Mercado Oriental, in protest of the government's disregard for human rights. She was sentenced to five years on charges of “fraud” and “swindling.” Since her imprisonment, Jerez has been attacked and beaten twice by unidentified men.

LEARN MORE

Miguel Mora Barberena

NICARAGUA

Detained December 22, 2018

Miguel Mora is a well-respected journalist and the director of news outlet 100% Noticias. He was detained by paramilitary forces in a raid of his offices and charged with “promoting and inciting hatred, violence and death.” He has spent 40 days total in solitary confinement in an underground cell and has experienced multiple health complications due to unsanitary conditions.

LEARN MORE

Lucia Pineda Ubau

NICARAGUA

Detained December 22, 2018

Lucia Pineda Ubau is a prolific Nicaraguan journalist and the news director at 100% Noticias. She was charged with “fomenting, planning and conspiring to commit terrorist acts” for the outlet’s coverage of protests against the government. She is currently detained in indefinite solitary confinement in La Esperanza women's prison, usually used only in punishment.

LEARN MORE

Amaya Coppens

NICARAGUA

Detained September 10, 2018

Amaya Coppens is a medical student and youth leader detained on charges of kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms, and terrorism. Coppens was “a key figure in the student movement, attending to the injured and bringing food to protesters amid a violent clampdown.” While imprisoned, Coppens has been attacked by masked men in her cell, alongside 17 cellmates.

LEARN MORE

The Cuban Patriotic Union

CUBA

Detentions Ongoing

The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) is a non-violent pro-democracy group whose members have been subject to arbitrary short-term detentions, physical violence, and other forms of harassment since the organization’s formation in 2011. As of April 1, 2019, there are 56 UNPACU members currently detained—accounting for over half of Cuba’s political prisoners.

LEARN MORE

Renzo Prieto

Venezuela

Detained May 10, 2014
  UPDATE: The Venezuelan government has released a number of political prisoners over the last couple of months. On 2 June 2018, Renzo Prieto was one of them.

LEARN MORE

 

Delson Guarate

Venezuela

Detained May 2, 2014
 UPDATE: In November 2017, Delson was released from prison, but has restrictions on speech and movement. He is not allowed to leave the country nor give public declarations about his case. Delson Guarate is the mayor of Mario Briceño Iragory and a leading figure in Voluntad Popular, Venezuela’s main opposition party.  He was arrested on August 31, 2016,  to stop him from participating in a mass public protest scheduled for the next day.

LEARN MORE

Yon Goicoechea

Venezuela

Detained August 29, 2016
UPDATE:  In November 2017, Yon was released from prison with restrictions on speech and movement. He is not allowed to leave the country nor give public declarations about his case. Yon Goicoechea is an activist, lawyer, and member of the Voluntad Popular party. He was kidnapped by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) on August 29, 2016. After two days of no contact with family our council, he appeared in court and was charged with possessing explosive materials.

LEARN MORE

Gilberto Sojo

Venezuela

Detained November 26, 2014
 UPDATE: Gilberto was released in December 2016 after two years of imprisonment. Gilberto Sojo is a community leader for the political party “Popular Will” in his town of San Agustin, Caracas. He was arbitrarily arrested by the testimony of an anonymous patriot cooperating and taken to prison along with his wife and his 3 year old son. His wife and son were released 24 hours after the arrest.

LEARN MORE

Yeimi Varela

Venezuela

Detained May 1, 2014
  UPDATE: Yeimi Varela was released on December 2016 together with other political prisoners in Venezuela. He was the security person in the office of the Venezuelan human rights organizations A Worlds Without Censorship and Human and Free. After taking part in anti-government protests in 2014, the office in Caracas was raided by the SEBIN (Bolivarian Intelligence Service), and he was arbitrarily detained and accused of conspiracy and possession of explosives. 

LEARN MORE

Braulio Jatar

Venezuela

Detained September 3, 2016
 Braulio Jatar is a Chilean-Venezuelan lawyer, journalist, and director of Reporte Confidencia, an independent online news website. He was detained on September 3, 2016, by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) while driving to host a radio show.

LEARN MORE

Rosmit Mantilla

Venezuela

Detained May 2, 2014
 UPDATE: On November 18, 2016, Venezuela released Rosmit Mantilla; he has said he will continue to support democracy in the country, and continue hoping for the release of fellow political prisoners. Mantilla was elected to parliament during the Venezuelan elections in December 2015. As a member of parliament, Rosmit is eligible for parliamentary immunity but has not been released by the government. Rosmit Mantilla was a student studying Communications in Caracas. Mantilla. Founder of the movement Pro-Inclusion, he was arbitrarily arrested due to his activities promoting the equal rights of the LGBTI community.

LEARN MORE

Ronny Navarro

Venezuela

Detained June 28, 2014
  UPDATE: In December 2017, the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly recommended the release of more than 80 prisoners under the precondition that they pledged to not repeat their 'crimes'. Ronny Navarro was among the first prisoners to be actually released at the end of December.

LEARN MORE

Gerardo Carrero

Venezuela

Detained May 8, 2014
Gerardo Ernesto Delgado Carrero is a human rights activist and national coordinator of "Operation Freedom.” He is the also the National Coordinator of the "Youth Organization Venezuelans,” pioneers in setting up camps for students and young dissidents under the method of "Organized Civil Resistance" and "No Violence.” These individuals camped at UNDP headquarters in Caracas in 2014 calling for "National Consciousness.”

LEARN MORE

Antonio Ledezma

Venezuela

Detained February 19, 2015
 UPDATE: In November 2017, Antonio was able to escape house arrest and was allowed to enter Colombia by the Colombian government, who then helped him travel to Spain to reunite with his family. He continues to fight for the release of Venezuela’s political prisoners from Spain.  The mayor of Caracas, Venezuela's capital, Antonio Ledezma, was arrested in his office in February, amid accusations of a coup attempt. 

LEARN MORE

Leopoldo Lopez

Venezuela

Detained February 18, 2014
 After nearly three years in prison and one hundred days of protests calling for his release, opposition leader and political prisoner, Leopoldo Lopez, was released from prison. On July 11, Venezuelan authorities released Lopez on “humanitarian grounds” for his “health situation,” according to the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Although he remains under house arrest and lacks full freedom, Lopez is now with his family and vows to renew his efforts as a leader of the democratic opposition movement.

LEARN MORE

Daniel Ceballos

Venezuela

Detained March 19, 2014
 UPDATE: After being under house arrest for one year, Daniel Ceballos was rearrested on August 25, 2016, and he remains imprisoned.

Daniel Ceballos, human rights activist and former mayor of San Cristóbal in Táchira was suspended and dismissed by the Venezuelan Supreme Court for contempt of court for failing to prosecute participants in Venezuelan peaceful protests in 2014. His charges include rebellion and conspiracy. He is currently going under a judicial process to receive the final decision on his sentence.

LEARN MORE