Desperately looking for habeas corpus in Venezuela
It works like this down in Venezuela. First, you get arrested for political statements. Second, they lock you up and promise your wife a hearing. Third, you stay in jail indefinitely, for a long, long time, without a trial.
Let's look at the story of Mr. Antonio Ledezma, the former mayor of Caracas:
It’s been seven months since Venezuelan authorities arrested Antonio Ledezma on charges of conspiring against President Nicolás Maduro, and the Caracas mayor has still yet to see a judge.
Ledezma’s wife, Mitzy Capriles, announced on Tuesday, September 22, that her husband’s preliminary hearing has been pushed back once again, this time until October 21.
The mayor’s defense attorneys say the government’s case is based on forged evidence and have denounced Ledezma’s inability to defend himself in court against the accusations.
“This is a completely baseless case,” Omar Estacio, Ledezma’s defense attorney, said in an interview with local media.
On Monday, the Mayors Association of Venezuela issued a statement demanding Ledezma’s release from prison. They say the Venezuelan judiciary is violating due process and has ignored the mayor’s presumption of innocence, which are both protected under the Venezuelan Constitution.
We are watching "judicial tyranny," or how the authorities violate the rule of law to terrorize their critics. These arrests are terrible not just for those arrested, but also for their poor families, strung along with promises of a hearing that never materializes.
On another front, Leopoldo Lopez, another opposition leader, was arrested in 2014 and just recently sentenced. Lopez was put through the same travesty of indefinite arrest, promises of hearings, and finally a sentence that most serious people do not accept.
Shouldn't the U.S. be doing more? Is watching the travesty our only option?