NGOs and opposition parties to the Venezuelan dictatorship have denounced the arrest of lawyer and activist Rocío San Miguel. She was detained at Simón Bolivar airport in the state of Vargas as she was about to travel abroad this weekend. This is the latest authoritarian action by the Chavista regime, led by Nicolás Maduro, who has recently arrested dozens of government critics accused of alleged plans to assassinate him. Those detained include military personnel and civilians, such as human rights activists, journalists, and military personnel in exile. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed San Miguel’s arrest.
Rocío San Miguel was involved in one of these “conspiracies” against Maduro, known as the “White Armband”. This plan involved an attack on a military base in Táchira, on the border with Colombia, to take weapons and assassinate Chavista leaders, as accused by the country’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab, who is a political ally of the dictator. Maduro, who is running for re-election this year, frequently denounces plots to overthrow and assassinate him.
San Miguel’s arrest has sparked a wave of demonstrations by NGOs and political parties across the country. Social media users have even started using the hashtag “#Dónde Está Rócio” (Where is Rócio) to demand the release of the activist. San Miguel has had precautionary measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) since 2018 after suffering attacks and harassment from the regime.
At the time, she was president of the Venezuelan NGO Controle Cidadão, which won a case against the Chavista dictatorship before the international court for violating political and expression rights. This was after she was fired from a public body for supporting the call for a recall referendum against the country’s then leader Hugo Chávez (1999-2013). With the repercussion of the case, Amnesty International (AI) and the Center for Justice and Peace (Cepaz) have also called for her “immediate and unconditional release”.