Nicolás Maduro’s government has used the repressive apparatus of the State against its own security forces to maintain control over these, said a New York Times article published last Tuesday which quotes several cases, including the recent death of Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo.
“Abuse against the officers has grown because they represent a real threat to the Maduro government,” said Gen. Manuel Cristopher Figuera, former intelligence director of Venezuela, who defected in April and currently lives in the US, in an article published this Tuesday for the New York Times.
The newspaper also indicates that according to complaints from several organizations, such as the Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy, which indicates that there are 117 officers, including active and retired, detained in Venezuelan prisons.
The article underlines the case of Acosta Arévalo, who died at the end of June in the custody of the Venezuelan State regarding his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to take a coup d’etat, which was condemned by the US.
The US Government blamed President Maduro and his “Cuban advisers” for the death, while reiterating support for the Venezuelan people, according to a message published on July 1 by the US Deputy Secretary of State for Latin America, Kimberly Breier, on her Twitter account.
The Times also recalls that the military was buried on July 10, against his wife’s wishes and surrounded by security guards in a government-controlled operation.
Also, the five relatives who were allowed to attend could not see him because his body was wrapped in brown plastic.
According to the newspaper, some sections of the autopsy report, which were leaked, indicated that Acosta suffered blunt force and electrocution trauma, and that authorities had admitted the use of excessive force in his case.
The Venezuelan government arrested two soldiers in connection with his death and said the officers used were excessive when the captain resisted arrest, recalls the Times.
He also cites in the article the cases of other soldiers who were tortured such as that of Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a captain of the National Guard who in 2017 led a failed assault on a military base, who suffered testicular injuries due to the blows he received in jail.
The article ensures that in the last two years, as food shortages have worsened due to the collapse of the oil economy, state security forces have carried out at least five operations to overthrow or assassinate Maduro.
The Government says it has thwarted at least a dozen more plots, including the plan that linked Acosta and five other detainees, which the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Maduro’s political organization, uses to justify constant vigilance, arbitrary detentions and the torture he considers his enemies.
Among those under vigilance, there are the 160,000 soldiers that make up the Armed Forces of Venezuela, quoting complaints from the United Nations.
It also emphasizes that the Coalition for Human Rights, based in Caracas and representing several of the military arrested, has documented 250 cases of torture committed by Venezuelan security forces against military officers, their families and opposition activists since the 2017
These abuses were announced last month in a report published by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Likewise, the article points out that although Maduro has tried to guarantee the loyalty of his military high command with promotions and lucrative contracts, middle and low-ranking officers and their families are increasingly affected by the crisis.
“Hunger reached the barracks and became infected with dissent,” Ana Leonor Acosta, a lawyer for the Coalition, told the newspaper, saying that the Armed Forces are full of paranoia, distrust and division.