LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN

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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.

María del Carmen Cala Aguilera

Cuba

Detained April 2015
Maria is an active member of Cuba's Ladies in White group and has been charged with "attack" by government authorities.

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Ricardo Pelier Frómeta

Cuba

Arrested May 2014
Ricardo is a member of Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) and was arrested in May 2014 by state security after they violently entered the home of his friend Yoelkis Rosabal Flores.

 

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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.

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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.

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Mario Ronaide Figueroa Diéguez

Cuba

Sentenced December 2, 2014
 A member of Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU), Mario was charged with "public disorder" and sentenced to three years imprisonment on December 2, 2014.

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Reinier Rodríguez Mendoza

Cuba

Sentenced August 2015
 A member of Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU), Reinier participated in a number of public civic activities in Havana calling for greater respect for human rights. He was subsequently arrested by authorities for his public activism.

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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.

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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. 

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Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong

Cuba

Sentenced August 2015
 Jordys was detained after he attended a peaceful public protest in the Parque Central de la Habana. He was charged with "pre-criminal dangerousness" and subsequently sentenced to three years of imprisonment.

 

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Yoelkis Rosabal Flores

Cuba

Detained May 2014
 Yoelkis is a member of the Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) and two other young activists were detained by police for staging a protest calling for the release of student and fellow UNPACU member  Yohannes Arce Sarmiento.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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