Prison inmates support Chavez’s re-election

Ysmel Serrano, the Interior and Justice Ministry’s Director of Inmate Custody and Rehabilitation, tells state news agency ABN that the national penitentiary system has joined the process of gathering the voter signatures required to win approval for a referendum amending the Bolivarian constitution to allow the indefinite re-election of President Hugo Chavez. Fifteen “red points” already have been installed in the country’s penitentiaries, he adds.
“The inmates took the initiative of organizing themselves and participating in the political process to amend (the constitution), which would allow all elected officials to continuously seek re-election,” says Serrano. “Families of inmates also will be allowed to sign petitions (supporting the proposed constitutional reform) when they visit their relatives in the prisons,” he adds.
Serrano claims that thousands of inmate signatures already have been collected at La Planta (Caracas), Yare, El Rodeo (Miranda), Santa Ana (Táchira) and Mérida, but more “red points” operated by self-constituted “inmate committees” will be installed in coming days in all of Venezuela’s 32 penitentiaries.
We wonder what incentives the government is offering prisoners in exchange for their signatures supporting the proposed constitutional reform.
Better food and lodgings, and more conjugal visits?
Perhaps the inmates were promised more freedom to traffic marijuana, cocaine and bazuco inside the prisons, and to own weapons for legitimate self-protection including handguns and hand grenades?
Or perhaps prison inmates were threatened with much less than the little they already possess.
Given that over three-quarters of the country’s prison inmates have not even been convicted or sentenced for their alleged crimes, perhaps they were threatened with lifetime imprisonment if they do not sign.
Or perhaps the “inmate committees” running the “red points” are making an offer no sane man in any Venezuelan jail can refuse. “Sign or die!”
It’s also possible that inmates were offered early release.
Sign the referendum petitions and the Bolivarian revolution will free you from prison, irrespective of whether the inmates who benefit are hardcore criminals who did commit the crimes they are charged with, and ought to be in jail to safeguard the lives and property of law-abiding Venezuelans.
It’s a safe bet that the members of the 32-47 “inmate committees” operating the “red points” will be freed – or maybe not, given Chavez’s lifelong habit of betraying his closest supporters and reneging on his promises.
The Chavez government is notorious for using the country’s prison population for its own political ends.
By some estimates, between 500,000 and 1 million foreigners were automatically granted Venezuelan citizenship between 2003 and 2006 in exchange for guaranteeing they would vote for Chavez and his candidates in all elections.
And during 2001, when the conflict between Chavez and his political opponents was escalating rapidly towards a bloody outcome in April 2002, some officials at the highest levels of the Interior and Justice Ministry managed a clandestine program through which some of the most violent criminals jailed in the country’s penitentiaries were freed from prison, armed and given cash stipends, in exchange for the criminals’ promising to harass and intimidate opposition political leaders and news media personalities.
Reporters Ibeyise Pacheco (El Nacional) and Berenice “La Bicha” Gomez (the most courageous Venezuelan reporter I know) were among the many Venezuelans targeted for political motives by professional criminals released from jail by the government precisely for this purpose.

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About Caracas Gringo

Representing less than 0.00000000001515152% of the world population as of 31 December 2011.
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