Sumate under fire Editorial in El Nacional
The official persecution of the directors of the civil ONG Sumate is
reaching its end.
They are accused of conspiring “to alter the Republican order”, as if
they had tried to implant a monarchy in Venezuela, no more, no less. As
if armed with machine guns, rockets, tanks and bombers, they had placed
in danger the soundness and continuity of the supposed Bolivarian
The Government demonstrates with this that is it is not prepared to
accept the smallest discrepancies, not the least dissidence, or the most
discreet request that the 2006 elections be presided by a National
Electoral Council (CNE) that can be trusted. That is what Sumate always
asked for, interpreting the large majority of Venezuelans, nothing
different, even, to what has been requested by international
organizations such as the OAS. Nothing different from the observations
made by the hemispheric organization in its report about the elections
of December 4th.
There are a few ways to read the trial against Sumate. One of them is
the intransigence and the intolerance of the regime. Another one, the
wish of taking advantage of the punishment against the directors so that
everybody learns the lesson and the requests for more transparent and
fair conditions for all citizens cease.
That people shut up out of fear.
The Electoral year projects itself as a year of persecutions and
threats, while the officialist train moves at high speed towards December
3d. As dangerous conspirators, the Prosecutor asked the 7th. Court that
Maria Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz be tried separately, since
others accused, Luis Enrique Palacios and Ricardo Esteves, are being
accused of “complicity”. But, on top of that, as conspirators of great
danger, they should be tried behind bars. No wonder the defense lawyers
warn that at the next hearing both Machado as well as Plaz could be
The defense has denounced a number of irregularities along the process.
The accused were not allowed to speak.
The representative from the Prosecutor’s office reiterated the request
that they be tried in prison, despite the decision by the Supreme Court
that forbids it. Thus, not even these formalitities are taken into
When lawyer Juan Martin Echeverria jr. insisted on speaking, the judge
ordered the constables to remove him from the room. If one wants to have
an idea how the trial is being carried out, this detail is sufficient.
You can guess what the outcome will be.
As stated above, Machado and Plaz are being accused of the crime of
conspiracy to “destroy the form of republican politics that the nation
has been given” Among the crimes they have been charged with is
receiving money from the organization National Endowment for Democracy
of the United States. Palacios and Estevez face the same process for the
same crime, but as accomplices.
The Prosecutor Ortega Diaz requested the maximum penalty for the crime of
conspiracy, 16 years.
This rigor has no precedent in a country where military conspirators
(like our President) were judged only by military judges, never suffered
sentences of that magnitude and always ended being benefited from
measures of pardon. Even in bloody occasions (like February 4th. 1992)
in which the uprisings left hundreds of dead. Now that the coup plotters
from the Saman de Guere are in power, they see with horror the specter
of subversion. They see conspirators even in organizations like Sumate.
But the civilians never threatened anyone.
Sumate has acted openly, has accounted for its income and expenses. To
say that the meetings of Sumate did not have as their objective
electoral training of the citizens but a subversive end, that of
overthrowing the Bolivarian regime, is a valid argument only for idiots.
One would have to give the Sumate Board an award for those
“conspirators” that respect the law: they would be an exception in the
history of Venezuela.
And it is this almighty regime, where the military predominates, the
most armed, the one that has had the largest resources, the one that
feels threatened. It is like one of those tales of Antonio Arraiz where
tio Conejo (Uncle Rabbit) makes tio Tigre (Uncle Tiger) run.
Unfortunately the question can not be one for being festive, because
what is in danger is the freedom of some citizens worthy of esteem that
have believed in the perfectibility of our institutions and have
advocated for that. You can not condemn them with coarse lies.
Let’s defend now justice and let us all reject this absurd trial.