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Indigenous Venezuelan man becomes 73rd political prisoner to die under Maduro regime custody

Salvador Franco, a member of the Pemon indigenous group, was arrested for his alleged involvement in a failed 2019 uprising against Maduro. Some 72 political prisoners have died from torture since 2013, the Provea NGO reported in 2020. Political and activists denounced the death of Franco while he was in custody.


This Sunday, January 3, opposition politicians and members of human rights organizations condemned the death in the Rodeo II prison of the Pemon native Venezuelan Salvador Franco, a political prisoner accused of terrorism by the Nicolas Maduro government.

Franco becomes the 73rd political prisoner to die while in government custody since 2013, according to a tally published by local human rights NGO Provea. It must be noted that Franco reportedly died of neglect. According to NGO Foro Penal, his jailers refused to take him to a hospital.

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Since 2018 the International Criminal Court has been investigating Maduro for crimes against humanity. The OAS has linked the regime with 18,000 instances of extrajudicial executions, 15,000 wanton arrests of political opponents, and 650 documented torture cases.

The fugitive leader of Voluntad Popular, Leopoldo Lopez, was the first to speak out through his Twitter account.

Franco was denied the right to be transferred to a health center for treatment, he said, which he called a violation of human rights and accused Nicolas Maduro government like responsible for his death.

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National Assembly President Juan Guaido described the death of Franco as murder committed by the Maduro regime. Complaints from the Pemon people (Franco spent almost two years in custody) led to a court allowing the prisoner to a hospital, an order that was never served. The death of Franco presumed by intestinal complications caused by untreated amoebiasis.

“Neither with the statement from his Pemon Kumarakapay community nor by court order was a timely transfer to the hospital possible. He died under the protection of the state,” said Susana Rafalli, a humanitarian-aid expert with Caritas, the largest Catholic charity in the world.

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Gonzalo Himiob and Alfredo Romero, directors of Foro Penal, which also defended Franco and the other 12 Pemon men detained with him, said Franco died due to lack of medical attention. They indicated that the situation got denounced on several occasions, with no response from the authorities.

The Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, also condemned the Salvador Franco death and pointed responsible for the Nicolas Maduro government.

The mayor in exile of the Gran Sabana municipality, Emilio Gonzalez, called on the international community to “intervene in the attack on the indigenous peoples by Nicolas Maduro.”

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