Torture, political prisoners and dictatorships: why Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were not invited to the Summit of the Americas

Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega; along with those from Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel; and Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro (Ramon Espinosa/Pool via REUTERS/File) (POOL/)

The United States will not invite representatives of the Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, or Nicaragua to the Summit of the Americas next month in Los Angelesconfirmed this Thursday Kevin O’Reillycoordinator of the summit, to a Senate committee.

Absolutely not. We do not recognize them as a sovereign government”, he said when asked about the involvement of the Maduro regime. The United States considers Maduro illegitimate and recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president.

Regarding the participation in the summit of the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortegaaccused of increasing authoritarianism in his country, O’Reilly also gave a definite “no”.. And consulted on whether representatives of the cuban regimestated that the White House was in charge of the invitations but that none had been sent “to my knowledge”.

President Joe Biden wants the Summit of the Americas to showcase democracy in Latin America and increase cooperation on migrationa key political priority for the United States.

The Argentine Alberto Fernández and the Mexican Andrés Manuel López Obrador (ESTEBAN COLLAZO / PRESIDENCY / AFP) (ESTEBAN COLLAZO /)

This Thursday, the head of state of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obradorconfirmed that received the invitation to the summit and ratified its position that no country should be excluded. “Tomorrow (Friday) it is likely, I am not sure, we are going to define the situation regarding the summit (…) yesterday I received the invitation”, expressed the president.

For his part, the Argentine president, Alberto Fernandez, delivered a fiery speech in which he questioned the blockades and economic sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela. His words were pronounced before an audience made up of education ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean, who met at the Argentine Foreign Ministry, although seemed to be directed at other interlocutors in the run-up to the Summit of the Americas.

I wonder if we really shouldn’t unite our voices to say to the North: “Stop!”, he introduced. And he developed in allusion to the Island governed by the Castro dictatorship since 1959: “In our continent we have a country that has been economically blocked for 6 decades and survives as best it can; we should be very ashamed of that happening”.

We also have a country that has been blocked for 5 years due to a political dispute and in the midst of a pandemic they blocked it, when solidarity was more necessary than ever”, he continued when referring to the Venezuela of Nicolás Maduro.

Officers of the Bolivarian National Guard take aim at a protest in Caracas, Venezuela
Officers of the Bolivarian National Guard point against a protest in Caracas, Venezuela (JUAN BARRETO /)

Tortures, political prisoners and dictatorships

In Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua there is no respect for human rights, there are hundreds of political prisoners, many opponents are tortured in prison and there is censorship against the independent press. This situation does not seem to be relevant for the Mexican and Argentine presidents, who intend to sit at the same table as the dictators and discuss without questioning their legitimacy.

The regimes of Maduro, Díaz-Canel and Ortega they are constantly pointed out by human rights organizations, NGOs and even by the UN for the actions they undertake against anyone who thinks differently.

In the case of Venezuela, a United Nations mission concluded last March that there were crimes against humanity and said that “the situation of impunity must be addressed”.

The International Independent Fact-Finding Mission Just a few weeks ago, on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, he presented an oral update of his harsh report to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The President of the Mission, Martha Valinasexpressed that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that there were crimes against humanity in Venezuela”.

There is a situation of impunity that must be addressed”, he indicated; while he said that “shortly after the publication of the second report, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Court Prosecutor’s Office.”

He then noted with concern the “human rights violations committed by state security officials” and that “lack of data continues to be an obstacle” by the state.

Valiñas stressed that “in recent months, there has been some progress in emblematic cases addressed by the Mission.” However, he reiterated thatfamily members of victims of human rights violations have the right to participate in investigations” that are carried out in the country.

According to the latest balance of the prestigious NGO Penal Forum, there are 240 political prisoners of the regime. From them, 226 are men and 14 women; 110 are civilians and 130 military.

The director of the organization, Gonzalo Himiobindicated that 9,414 people remain subject to “unfair criminal proceedings, for political reasons, under precautionary measures”.

Also, a few weeks ago, twenty humanitarian organizations sent a letter to the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, in which they urge him to ask the Venezuelan regime the release of “political prisoners”particularly the human rights activist Javier Tarazona.

Tarazona, director of the local NGO Foundationswas accused of “incitement to hatred” and “terrorism” after denouncing alleged links between the Maduro regime and Colombian armed groups In Venezuela.

“Doll box” is the name used for this torture

“Box of dolls”, the torture used by the Venezuelan dictatorship in its detention centers

The Venezuelan dictatorship continues to use brutal methods of torture in their detention centersdespite attempts to appear collaborative with the High Commission for Human Rights, the activist denounced Tamara Sujuexecutive director of the Casla Institute.

doll box” is the name used by the regime for this method that is being applied by the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence.

They place the detainees in a space of 60 cm x 60 cm. They leave them there for hours, some have spent up to three nights”, explained an illustration of the Casla Institute, in a preview of the report it presented on human rights violations in Venezuela.

The limited space means that the detainees, usually politically persecuted, have to stand and have practically no room to sit or squat without colliding with the walls..

The publication included the testimony of a victim who was tortured at the scene, and who detailed the physical and psychological effects suffered: “I spent three days in that kind of box, without water and food, without air, completely black, and I thought I saw lights and shadows and that they spoke to me. I fainted three times from exhaustion, I peed and the walls held me, I was hallucinating”.

Demonstrators in front of the Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) while they are loaded onto a truck on a street in Havana (EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Archive)
Demonstrators in front of the Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) while being loaded onto a truck on a street in Havana (EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Archive) (Ernesto Mastrascusa/)

The situation in Cuba

After the massive and unprecedented peaceful demonstrations that took place on the island on July 11, the Castro dictatorship increased the persecution and violence against any voice that is raised against it. This is how he carried and carries on numerous trials in which he sentenced to long years in prison those who participated in the street protests.

The Supreme Court has already sentenced more than 120 people for “violently subverting the constitutional order” due to the 11J protests on the island, for which those sentenced have received sentences between 4 and 30 years in prison.

“The Court has notified the sentences, in which it has considered proven and demonstrated that on July 11, 2021, in the Toyo Corner, municipality of Diez de Octubre, obeying instructions given by people both from Cuba and from abroad, the defendants, attempted to subvert the constitutional order violently”reported the highest court of the Cuban dictatorship in a press release for one of the trials, held between December 14 and February 3.

The citizens wereaccused of committing and provoking serious disturbances and acts of vandalism, with the purpose of destabilizing public order, collective security and citizen tranquility”.

Police arrest a man when people demonstrate, on July 11, 2021, on a street in Havana (EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/Archive)
Police arrest a man when people demonstrate, on July 11, 2021, on a street in Havana (EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa/File) (EFEI0658/)

The political prisoners of the Díaz-Canel dictatorship

In its latest report, published on May 5, Prisoners Defenders recorded that more than 1,200 people suffered deprivation of liberty in the last 12 months.

The NGO denounced that from May 1, 2021 to April 30 of this year, a total of 1,218 people have suffered political imprisonment in Cuba. “At this specific moment, with data closing as of April 30, 2022, the list of political prisoners in Cuba contains 1,015 prisoners suffering judicial convictions, as well as provisions limiting freedom by prosecutors without any judicial supervision, in flagrant violation of international law and due process,” said the NGO.

It also stated that 874 of the political prisoners are in jail for the massive peaceful demonstrations of July 11.

“We reflect these 1,015 verified political prisoners, as every month, in the list of Prisoners Defenders of Cuba, which we make public and distribute in all political, diplomatic and human rights defense spheres,” the organization continued.

He then underlined that “with 145 political prisoners began in May of last year. From then until April 30, 2022, another 1,073 new political prisoners have been added to the first 145throwing a total of 1,218 political prisoners during the last 12 months”.

A protest demanding freedom for political prisoners in Nicaragua (EFE/Welcome Velasco/Archive)
A protest demanding freedom for political prisoners in Nicaragua (EFE/Welcome Velasco/Archive) (WELCOME VELASCO/)

The landscape in Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega’s regime carried out a wave of arrests in the framework of the presidential elections on November 7 and which is still going on. More than 170 critics of the dictatorship are currently imprisoned in Nicaragua in the context of the political crisis that the country has been experiencing since the anti-government protests of 2018, according to human rights organizations and family members.

Among them, 46 were arrested before the November elections, including seven potential electoral rivals of Ortegawho ended up winning a fourth consecutive term since 2007, considered illegitimate by the United States, Canada, the European Union and most Latin American countries.

Last Monday, Emily Mendraladeputy assistant secretary for the Americas at the US State Department, said that the Joe Biden administration maintains “a range of bilateral communication” with Managua and continues “pressing for the release of political prisoners”.

“Without a doubt, The immediate release of political prisoners in the hands of the regime remains one of the main priorities of the United States in Nicaragua.”, assured the diplomat during a forum organized by the Inter-American Dialogue study center.

The regime imprisoned these people for wanting nothing more and demanding nothing less than democracy, justice and respect for human rights.”, he underlined; denouncing not only “unfair imprisonment” but also “deplorable conditions” of deprivation of libertywith denial of access to legal representation and medicine.

The United States applied sanctions to 46 people and nine entities in Nicaragua since December 2017, including several members of the Ortega Murillo clan. In addition, he took steps to apply visa restrictions to more than 280 Nicaraguans.

We will continue to use these diplomatic and economic tools to increase pressure”, promised Mendrala.

Cristiana Chamorro Arturo Cruz Félix Maradiaga Blandon Juan Sebastián Chamorro - Candidates Nicaragua arrests
Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga Blandon and Juan Sebastián Chamorro, some of the imprisoned candidates

The condemnation of the Ortega dictatorship against the candidates who tried to confront him

The fierce hunt that Daniel Ortega’s regime unleashed against possible opposition presidential candidates ended last month with sentences of between eight and 13 years in prison against all of them.

Ortega secured a fourth consecutive term as head of the Nicaraguan government through an electoral process that the opposition considered “a farce” and that even reached detain between June 2 and July 24 seven of the possible candidates with the highest popularity ratings.

In this way, Ortega competed on November 7 only against unknown candidates, from parties related to his regime.

The declaration of guilt against the seven rivals who tried to confront Ortega and Murillo is the consummation of the persecution and political prosecution against any leadership or opposition force that aspired to dispute power through the vote.”, said the independent body Open Ballot Boxeswho from exile and underground has followed up on the Nicaraguan electoral process.

The agency highlighted the multiple violations of the judicial process to which the regime resorted to remove from the game these candidates who, according to various independent polls, would have beaten Daniel Ortega in fair and free competitions.

A survey by the CID-Gallup firm, conducted in September 2021, revealed that 65% of Nicaraguans would have voted for any of the seven candidates who are in jail and only 19% would have voted for Ortega.

Potential opposition candidates were seized in an intense police raid that targeted political leaders, journalists, businessmen and analysts.

Among the violations that the Sandinista regime carried out against the judicial process of political prisoners, Urnas Abiertas points out the arbitrary arrests, raids without a court order and without submitting an act of occupation of property, unjustified extension of preventive detention for more than 90 days established by law, violation of the presumption of innocence, non-compliance and rejection of habeas corpus, and the right to be tried by impartial judges, among other.

Likewise, the relatives of the political prisoners denounced the particular viciousness with which the regime has acted against them by keeping them isolated, with scant food rations, visits every two months, and without the right to meet with their lawyers.


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