Venezuelan Judge Rules NGO Will Face Trial for Treason
Posted: Friday, July 8, 2005
By Jonah Gindin – Venezuelanalysis.com
Four members of the Venezuelan non-governmental organization Súmate appeared in court Wednesday and again on Thursday, on charges of "conspiracy against the republican form of the nation." Directors Maria Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz are charged with being the masterminds of the conspiracy, while Luis Enrique Palacios and Ricardo Estévez are charged with being accomplices.
On Thursday, a judge ruled that the conspiracy charge would go to court, rejecting, however, the prosecution's request that Machado and Plaz be imprisoned until the trial. No trial date has yet been set.
Immediately following judge Sandoval's decision, spokespersons for the Spanish and United States governments issued official statements, and U.S.-based Human Rights Watch published a communiqué on its website, all expressing their concern that the trial is a form of political persecution against opposition group Súmate.
The conspiracy charge stems from a US$31,000 grant Súmate received from the U.S. government funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which state prosecutors allege they used for political activity.
Political parties are prohibited by Venezuelan law from accepting financial donations from abroad. According to co-director Maria Corina Machado, Súmate is an objective non-partisan civil association. Nevertheless, they have been widely criticized inside and outside Venezuela for taking a clear oppositional position to the government of Hugo Chávez, something Súmate legally denies, but practically admits.
Full Article : venezuelanalysis.com