By Luis Manuel Aguana
When the National Assembly began with the issue of the Amnesty Law, I had a bad feeling. What were they doing? What was the real intention behind the Bill beyond what is stated in the proposed text itself, to achieve that “civil and military officials who collaborate in the restitution of the Constitutional Order in Venezuela…”. So many blows make Venezuelans suspicious. They already approved it in the first discussion on January 22, 2019 (see news from the National Assembly in http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/noticias/_an-aprobo-en-primera-discusion-ley-de-amnistia and see the law in http://www.asambleanacional.gob.ve/noticias/_ley-de-amnistia-y-garantias).
And my first mistrust came because if Article 333 provides for the obligation of all Venezuelans, invested or not with authority, to collaborate with the restoration of the full force of the constitution – in other words, everyone – does it make any sense to encourage those who have committed crimes since 1999 and for whom our constitution has lost its force, so that with that incentive they effectively comply with it? In other words, are we making a law to encourage with oblivion the crimes of those who without any payment have the constitutional obligation to rescue the constitutional validity? Is that it?
According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy the term “Amnesty” refers to “1. F. Forgiveness of certain types of crimes, which extinguish the responsibility of their perpetrators “(see RAE, Amnesty, in https://dle.rae.es/?id=2NBrKLC). In other words, for there to be an amnesty or pardon that extinguishes the responsibility of its perpetrators, there must first be a penalty for a crime committed for which the perpetrators are paying. If not, how else is an amnesty understood? This is simple elementary logic. I am astonished to see that the Assembly proposes a law to say I forgive them’, without specifying what is being forgiven here, if they comply with the constitution. It’s uphill, isn’t it?
That’s why we Venezuelans raised our voice of indignation indicating that it smelled like negotiation. Otherwise, how could it be understood that because some military or civilian of the regime passed “to the side of democracy and freedom,” his crimes were forgiven without knowing what they were? Let’s see an example: Rafael Ramírez, the grim character who destroyed PDVSA and is being sought out by the same regime (see https://www.el-carabobeno.com/documento-vincula-a-rafael-ramirez-con-delitos-contra-sector-petrolero/) and enjoys outside the country the mega-millions of dollars stolen from Venezuelans, would he be a candidate for that “amnesty” law if he went to the right side? Would he be allowed to return to Venezuela after Maduro’s departure?
Would it not be better if, once Nicolas Maduro’s regime had fallen, and all those responsible for this horrific tragedy had been caught or requested, they were duly prosecuted and sentenced, then on a case-by-case basis, to decide in a specially designated Ad-Hoc Tribunal, such as the Nuremberg Tribunal, who has and who does not have the right to an amnesty, in accordance with their cooperation with the justice system? That is what citizens must ask themselves!
And I emphasize Ramirez’s case because this innocent pigeon is casually announcing that he will run for the presidency (see news in Tal Cual, en http://talcualdigital.com/index.php/2019/01/31/rafael-ramirez-candidato-chavismo/). Don’t you think that’s very suspicious? I think that Members of the AN would have to explain to us on a case-by-case basis who would be the subject of that amnesty. We are not talking here about a red-red PDVSA clerk who stole a computer, confessed to it and we forgive him. No. We are talking about a person capable of covering half the National Assembly with dollars in order to become a candidate in a future government consensual with “chavismo light”. Do you realize what I am talking about?
That’s why I think that this law is just another trap for characters like Rafael Ramírez and others like him to form part of this new Venezuela that is beginning to take shape. But it is also an extremely dangerous initiative if it is executed in that way, for the stability of a next transitional government, because that dirty money would buy the most unimaginable wills, which would twist any attempt to straighten the country, and in favor of a return of chavismo without Chavez.
And this leads me to raise the issue of forgiveness but from the perspective of those who are the ones who will suffer that in their own flesh when it has been given. I could not remotely say it, much less understand it, because I have not suffered their tragedy. Dr. Ing. José Méndez who, in a recent communication, tells us Venezuelans to ask ourselves what the real victims would feel as a result of the Amnesty Law:
“Let these politicians of Chavismo light, who promote new dialogues, arrangements, agreements, etc., ask:
All the victims of the RED snipers of April 11, the 19 dead and the many wounded by the merciless cruelty of the leadership of Castro Narco Comunismo;
Let them ask the officials, INOCENT commissars, about the events of April 11. To the officials who are still paying penalties, BEING INNOCENT, even having paid the full penalty. Ask the family of commissioners Henry Vivas and Lázaro Forero;
Let them ask Ivan Simonovis, still a prisoner at home, his wife Bony, their children, their relatives;
Let them ask Cruz María Baduel, wife of General Raúl Isaías Baduel, his children Miguel, Isaí and the whole Baduel family;
Ramón Antonio Losada Saavedra, his wife and children;
Ask the relatives of the dozens killed and wounded by the explosion at the Amuay refinery on August 25, 2012, the relatives of those killed and wounded in INEXCUSABLE accidents, within PDVSA and the state-owned companies and the many confiscated companies;
Ask the children, wife and relatives of Franklin Brito, who died in the custody of regime henchmen on August 30, 2010 on the premises of the Military Hospital… To those children threatened even after his murder;
Ask the relatives of the victims/heroes MASACRADOS in real time, on Monday, January 15, 2018: Oscar Alberto Pérez, Jairo (Toby) Lugo Ramos and Abraham Lugo Ramos (sons of Christian leader Jairo Lugo), Abraham Israel Agostino Agostino, Daniel Enrique Soto, José Alejandro Díaz Pimentel, Lisbeth Andreina Ramírez Mantilla … In parentheses, Maduro boastfully stated before the media, on December 19, 2017: “…Wherever they appear, I have ordered the Armed Forces! PLOMO with terrorist groups! ! LEAD with them compadre!…. Zero tolerance…”.
How painful! Let us not allow that false amnesty that the official opposition is suspiciously proposing to us, if that law is approved in those terms.
There will hardly be a new Venezuela without justice. We want to reconcile but with a Venezuela that believed from the heart that things would change for the better after 1998 from the hands of a military coup plotter, and now they are truly repentant. Not with those who stole it and destroyed it and now pretend through artifices negotiated in the dark with the money they took, to survive what is to come. That is why we must first go through a Court that imparts that justice for everything that has happened, with the Truth ahead, and decides a true amnesty, if it is justified, to those who believe they deserve it so that we can live together in peace.
Caracas, February 3, 2019