Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Venezuela: US Filmmaker Transferred to Notorious Prison, Arrested for Making Political Documentary

According to The Latin American Tribune, US documentary filmmaker Tim Tracy, 35, was arrested in Venezuela for alleged espionage on April 24, and was transferred on May 29 to the notorious El Rodeo II prison outside Caracas. El Rodeo is best described as a "snake-pit" that is known for widespread violence.

Tracy and 20 others were transferred from their cells within the government intelligence service building because of a severe bacterial outbreak. Tracy is slated to attend a hearing on June 11, which will determine whether his case will proceed to trial or he will be released.

El Rodeo II was the site of a riot in 2011 where 25 people, including visitors, were killed during a shootout between two gangs within the prison complex.

COMMENT: Knowing Venezuela as intimately as I do, it is very unlikely that Tracy will be released on June 11.

Mr. Tracy was arrested for allegedly funneling funds to student groups opposing the new government of President-elect Nicolas Maduro, who won the post-Chavez elections on April 14 by a thin margin. 

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles led accusations of electoral fraud as thousands took to the streets in protest, with seven reported killed amid the civil unrest. 

It should also be noted that Capriles caused presidential outcry in Caracas in recent days after he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, in an effort to build regional support for his efforts to overturn results of the Venezuelan presidential election on April 14, which he claims was fraudulent. 

Venezuelan Parliament speaker Diosdado Cabello compared the meeting between Santos and Capriles to being tantamount to "placing a bomb on a train." Nevertheless, Santos has recognized Maduro's election victory and attended his inauguration last month. 
Tim Tracy was subsequently arrested, along with his possession of videos he had been filming for a documentary he was making about the political situation in Venezuela, which very likely was not complimentary. His biggest mistake was in having the videotapes in his possession.

Given the obsessive dislike for the US under both the late President Hugo Chávez and now his successor, President Nicolas Maduro, it was imprudent of Mr. Tracy to presume that he could visit Venezuela, a country that is not unlike Cuba, and escape arrest, however honorable his commitment and objective.

There have been other Americans that have been arrested over the years for interfering with the internal affairs of Venezuela's socialist government since Chávez came to power in February 1999, and until his death from natural causes in March 2013. 

What many US citizens fail to realize is that when they leave the US they leave their rights as US citizens behind and are afforded no more rights than foreign governments accord them. Unfortunately, in Venezuela, US citizens have virtually no legal rights, except those accorded to them by a socialist government.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.