Maduro’s regime arrest people who recording gasoline protests

Since Maduro's fueling plan began, five people have arrested for recording or posting material on social networks about long lines, influence-peddling, and protests at gas stations. Two of those imprisoned are charged with incitement to hatred, terrorism, and attack to police institutions. Two are media workers and one is a city council member.

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Since June 1, gasoline has been available at new prices all over Venezuela. Photo by Nehomar Guerra.

Since June 1, and after a period of a gasoline shortage, a new supply plan for the whole country initiated, announced by the Chavist ruler himself, Nicolas Maduro, in a radio and TV simulcast.

However, after four days that the fuel began being sold at new, higher prices, lines are still long in all the states of the country, and the irregularities are many, according to what the affected people reported to El Pitazo.

With photographs, videos, and complaints on social networks, users of the service stations raised their voices to denounce abuses and shortcomings in the supply plan since day one.

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Preferential treatment for government officials, delays in service, overcharging for gasoline, or charging in foreign currency for subsidized gasoline are some of the most common complaints reported so far.

According to reports, there have been reprisals to these complaints. Five individuals, including journalists, have been arrested for recording or sharing the material of these irregularities.

Here is a summary:

  • The first case reported June 1 in Ciudad Ojeda, state of Zulia. Douglas Jose Ramírez, an audiovisual producer, and Jorge Amado Cortez, a former councilman and host of a news program, were arbitrarily detained by officials of the Municipal Police while they were recording a gasoline line at a gas station. At that time, it became known that they would be charged with the crimes of incitement to hatred, and disturbance of public order, after they recorded testimonies of users waiting to re-fuel that day.
  • Carlos Augusto Rios Villamizar, 41, a public official with the National Urban Transport Fund, and Karelys Betsay Arroyo Carrasquel, 35, a press worker of the subscription channel IVC Networks, were arrested on June 3, by the Bolivarian National Police. The couple broadcasted a video showing a group of people protesting against preferential treatment received by some officials at the Texaco service station in Miranda state.

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  • The last case occurred on June 4, when the National Guard officials detained Carol Romero, a journalist, and producer, for recording a discussion between military personnel and citizens at the service station on the road to El Junquito. Romero was assaulted at the time of her arrest, as well as her aunt, who tried to defend her.
  • Journalist Romero remained incommunicado for a day and a half, but on the morning of June 5, the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP in Spanish) learned unofficially that she was carrying from the GNB to be presented in the courts.
  • That same day, Carol was paraded, handcuffed, in a state-television broadcast with the Maduro regime going to charge her with disturbing the peace and assaulting the National Guards who arrested her.
  • That same morning, a group of three workers from VPI, a web- news TV service, were arrested for several hours and then released. Eventually, Romero was released, but she can’t talk about her case.

Two of the detainees in the list above- arbitrarily and without a warrant – are accused of incitement to hatred, terrorism, attack to police institutions, and destructive criticism of the fuel supply system. The offenses are covered by the Law against Hate, for Peaceful Coexistence and Tolerance, as well as the Law against Organized Crime and Financing of Terrorism.

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