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A Colombian woman appeals to the government for help locating her son arbitrarily detained in Venezuela

Ramona Rangel reports that on July 30th, the [Venezuelan] Bolivarian Intelligence Service took her 24-year-old son, Juan Pedro Lares, from his home in Venezuela. 11 days later, and still without any updates regarding his whereabouts, Rangel is asking the Colombian Embassy in Venezuela for help with her search.

Por: DejusticiaAugust 11, 2017

 

 A Colombian woman living in Caracas, Ramona Emilia Rangel Colmenares, sent a right of petition to the Colombian embassy in Venezuela appealing for help with obtaining information about the whereabouts and physical state of her 24-year-old son, Juan Pedro Lares. Lares was arbitrarily detained 11 days ago. The young man is also the son of Omar Lares, the mayor of the municipality of Campo Elías (in the state of Mérida).

According to Ramona Rangel, on the afternoon of Sunday July 30th, while the election vote of the members to the National Constitutional was being conducted, agents from the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin), the Bolivarian National Guard (PND), and groups of armed civilians entered without warning shooting inside the home of the Lares family. Their intention was to detain the mayor.

Omar Lares managed to escape, but the hit-men took his son without any arrest warrant. “The family escaped out the back door, but nevertheless, the attackers managed to capture Juan Pedro Lares. A few hours later he was supposedly moved to the “El Helicoide” jail in Caracas (…) It is presumed that the government is keeping him detained to force his father to turn himself in,”proclaims Provea, a human rights organization, in a press release posted on their website. (http://bit.ly/2fzSD3F).

Even prior to December 2013, when Lares became mayor of Campo Elías, he had already suffered harassment as an opposition activist in Venezuela. He was shot 3 times in 2005 and in 2010, presumed members of armed civilian groups protected by the government robbed him and lit his home on fire.

Last April, as the protests in Venezuela began to take shape, Mayor Lares began to receive threats against his life and well-being by phone and through social media. “I denounce the government and declare them responsible for the well-being of my son, Juan Pedro, who was kidnapped in a commando action in our own home,” the mayor tweeted, minutes after his son’s detention.

In the right of petition that Ramona Emilia Rangel presented to the Colombian Embassy in Venezuela, headed by Javier Darío Higuera, the mother explained how she left Mérida for Caracas in search of information about her son but has not received any answers. “I have, on multiple occasions, been to the Helicoide Jail and they haven’t let me see my son. Nor will they even corroborate that he is here. Since the deprivation of his liberty, Juan Pedro Lares has not been put in front of a tribunal (which by law should be done within the first 48 hours of detention), because they have yet to come up with the charges against him. His detention is arbitrary, because it was not even backed up by an arrest order from a tribunal. His apprehension was flagrant,” the woman explains.

El Helicoide’, the jail where they would have moved Juan Pedro Lares, is an imposing, pyramid-like building found in the outskirts of Caracas. It is considered an architectural icon that was converted into a prison for political prisoners; since this change, there have been reports of torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment.

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