Pilieri, the students and our lack of power division.

Before going to work, I passed by the OAS office to see how things were going. Some students are still there with their tents, accompanied by a big placard with one of the most remarkable political prisoner’s photo: elected depute (and Daniel’ representantive) Biagio Pilieri. A 20 year old girl with brackets assured me with a smile that Pilieri is now free as a result of their negotiations and their long hunger strike; suspended yesterday. The strike had, besides Pilieri’ release (which is only partial, as I’ll explain later), some achievements: they set up a negotiation table with the government, some of the political prisoners’ cases will be revised and they were promised to visit a prison

If those achievements were enough to suspend the strike and to celebrate the way these students did last night, it is not for me to judge. Perhaps inside the regime we have, what it can be seen as only small achievements, are actually huge; and hard to get. To fight against this regime you must do it one step at the time. And to keep the spirits alive you probably need to cheer and take account of every single -small or not -achievement. I’m personally against hunger strikes, I respect the ones who do it and I too defend their causes; but I think we can reoccur to other ways of protests without damaging our health this much. Of course, this country situation is getting worse every day and perhaps extreme measures such as this one are needed. I’m just in the hope that we can yet use other was to pressure.

Besides that, make no mistake: the decision concerning Pilieri’ case was a political; not a judicial one. His release is only partial so the government has not yet recognized its mistake. Apparently, he’s still being judge and he has to present to courts periodically. But at least he can take his seat at the National Assembly.

Pilieri was judged and declared innocent. Against the rule of law that says no one can be judged more than once for the same cause; a second trial was opened against him with what it was even weirder, an imprisonment measure. Once he won the elections, he should have taken his seat at the National Assembly, with no possible trials against him since deputies enjoy parliamentary immunity. In violation of all possible rights and principles, this didn’t happen. Same as it was a political decision what kept him facing senseless trials and out of his seat; it was also a political decision to release him.

This clearly shows the lack of independence of powers in this country. One call and he’s in jail, because of the same cause of which has proven to be innocent. One call and he’s free. The judges do not make independent decisions; they just sit and wait for calls from “up there”. Sentences are being made even before trial starts, the president and the ministers state if someone is guilty or not, and for how long should be punished; simply by speaking “their opinion” (their orders) on TV.

Although Pilieri might take his seat, he still doesn’t enjoy the right of parliamentary immunity. He has to present to court periodically which is, by all means, a liberty with considerable restrictions it should not have.

Either way, this is a partial win situation for the opposition: we have the seat we won but it was taking from us at the Assembly and the existence of political prisoners in Venezuela and the treatment they are receiving have gotten international attention. On the other hand, this is a loss- loss situation for the government: the Revolution has been forced to give up on some issues, such as Pilieri after claiming he was a delinquent and all that blah blah… and, although interior Minister’ Aissami has declared that this was an “institutions victory”; for me and for many others, this was a proof that institutions don’t work in an institutional way, but a political one. The small concessions the government gave are by no means a proof of how “democratic and respectful of Human Rights” is; but rather of how trapped it feels for they to admit that they do have political prisoners.