POLITICAL PRISONERS OF THE 21st CENTURY’S SOCIALISM
By Carlos Sánchez Berzaín
The appearance of the actor Sean Penn before the U.S. Congress House of Representatives Sub Committee on International Affairs asking to intervene in Bolivia for the release of US citizen Jacob Ostricher and even proposing that the Dakar rally do not pass through Bolivia, is evidence of the existence of political prisoners by judicial decisions in the countries of the 21st century socialism.
Sean Penn an American actor, Academy Award winner for his roles in the movies “Mystic River” (2003) and “Milk” (2008), is notorious in Latin America as activist, and for his friendship with the Castro dictators and with the deceased Hugo Chávez -through whom he became friend with Evo Morales-. Evo stated that Penn was an "Ambassador of good will of the Bolivian maritime cause and for the decriminalization of the coca".
Penn went three times in 2012 to Bolivia to request from Evo Morales the release of Östreicher who was then 18 months imprisoned. His efforts allowed the judge to change the detention to house arrest which caused a public scandal and resulted in an investigation that showed the official network of extortion involving senior government officials, including from the Attorney General office and from the police; some of them detained while the Government quieted down the case in order to prevent the scandals from reaching Morales.
It was hence corroborated that Jacobo Östreicher’s arrest is due to Evo’s and the now deceased Hugo Chávez’s political reasons. Penn had no other choice than to request and ask for help from his own Congress, angering and provoking great fury to the Bolivian cocalero leader since his friend exposed to the world a case of a United States citizen as political prisoner in Bolivia.
The issue is that in countries of the 21st Century Socialism; Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, (Argentina is going down the same path), the judicial system is a tool used for political repression and persecution, and their governmental control has many more victims imprisoned. The list of political prisoners in Cuba would surely occupy all the pages in a newspaper, highlighting the American Alan Gross case, who has already been sentenced.
In Venezuela these are a few of the political prisoners been held: General Raúl Baduel, Mayor Milton Revilla, police officers Ivan Simonoviz and Lázaro Forero, Judge Afiuni, businessman Víctor García, dozens of college students, American documentary filmmaker Timothy Tracy, among many others.
In Bolivia at Evo Morales’s request the following are imprisoned: Generals Roberto, Juan Veliz, Luis Aranda, Gonzalo Rocabado and others who in 2003 met their Constitutional obligations; Governor of Pando Leopoldo Fernández; the victims of the massacre of La Calancha; civic defendants in the case of terrorism whose Government involvement has been proved, Juan C. Velarde, Hugo Paz, General Gary Prado and dozens more; former Minister and Senator Guillermo Fortún who died a prisoner; officials of the airline shut down by the Government and many more charged with offences forged by the Government to impede their leadership or to seize their assets.
In Ecuador at Rafael Correa’s request, judges sentenced to 18 months in prison; Assemblyman Clever Jiménez, Carlos Figueroa and journalist Fernando Villavicencio on charges of defamation; accused terrorist leader Mery Zamora has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for having organized a demonstration of leaders and students.
All of these cases should come to the attention of the world’s democracies and remind them that there are political prisoners in Countries of this 21st Century Socialism and they should additionally not only advocate for their freedom but stop calling all this a democracy.