By Liz Gascon
The Lara State Bar Association expressed its support for lawyer Eva Leal, who was beaten and detained by the National Guard in the afternoon of June 23, at the Macuto Bridge in Barquisimeto, for refusing to pay an alleged extortion fee.
The female lawyer is still prisoner inside military barracks in Barquisimeto. Leal sustained injuries to her forehead and scalp as a result of the bloody attack, captured on a video.
Leal was trying to negotiate a National Guard checkpoint outside the permitted circulation hours during the radical quarantine. The National Guard had already sequestered her national ID and other personal documents, a common practice in Venezuelan law enforcement, which, by the way, is illegal.
You must read Warao women denounced maltreatment by National Guard
She was on her way back home after closing the family’s small shop when she ran into the checkpoint. Leal was jumped by the military woman, who injured her in the head. “They split her head open” several men can be heard in the video, wrestled her to the ground, and took Leal’s phone away for allegedly recording National Guard officers blackmailing her.
Leal was vocally demanding to see the decree that established amounts, and sanctions for circulating without a safe passage document (issued by the military, very often in exchange for money) after 3:00 pm.
“We raise our voice in protest against the outrage and abuse of authority suffered yesterday, National Day of the Lawyer, by our colleague Eva Sofia Leal. Actions like this can be linked to what happened to George Floyd in the United States,” the organization explains in a statement published on June 24.
The Lara State Bar Association described the actions of the National Guard in the case of Leal, who is held at Detachment 121 in Barquisimeto, as disproportionate. Leal will be presented in a military tribunal. The Bar Association also denounced that at least six officials participated in the aggression that was recorded by other witnesses.
“It cannot be allowed that with the Decree of Exception under COVID-19, the fundamental rights of citizens are violated (…) The behavior of the security agencies must be adjusted to the patterns of formation of citizen conscience and not of repression”.
The Bar Association called to the administration of justice officers to act under the standards of protection of human, civil, and women rights in the case of Leal.
“We will reach to the ultimate consequences in the search for justice to our colleague, and we ask that the necessary corrections be applied,” he added.