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REDACTED Page 80 of 190 Socialcristiano), against the apostolic nunciature and against the journalist Marta Colomina.329 An arrest warrant was issued against the main leader of this group, Valentín Santana, but it was never executed.330 e)The scope of repression since 2004 It is this context of an erosion of the rule of law331 and of the total domination and power of the Presidency to create laws, enforce them including by the National Security Forces and to control any accountability mechanism through the courts that the Presidency under Chávez expanded its control over the country and reduced the scope of basic civil liberties discriminating on the basis of political loyalities. The Presidency under Chávez created a formal framework to persecute citizens voting against the PSUV, to target political opponents and prevented dissent from civilians, political opponents, civil society actors and the media. The persecution against businessmen also began during Chávez’s government and has been ongoing ever since. One of the well-known cases involved Herman Sifontes, Juan Carlos Carvallo, Miguel Eduardo Osío and Ernesto Rangel, who are four executive directors of the taken-over brokerage firm Econoinvest, in a chain of events that destroyed 63 brokerage firms and 60 commission houses and was described by Minister of Finances Jorge Giordani, as necessary to get rid of these “scorpions” because their basis was against the ideology of the revolution.332 The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that the detention was arbitrary and in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and requested that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela grant Mr. Sifontes, Mr. Rangel and Mr. Carvallo “immediate release”.333 329 IACHR. (2009) Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela. para. 777 330 IACHR. (2009) Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela. p. 205, para 775 to 777; Furthermore, as an example of the relationship between the Government and this paramilitary groups, the Penitentiary Services Secretary, Iris Valera twitted “we, the colectivos, are the fundamental pillar of the defence of the country.” See: EL UNIVERSAL. (2014) Varela: Colectivos son el pilar para la defensa de la patria; also see: EL NACIONAL. (2014) Varela: Colectivos somos pilar fundamental para la defensa de la patria. 331 BBC. (2007) Cinco años de cambios políticos y sociales. BBC Mundo. [Online] 3 April. Available from:ávez/newsid_6511000/6511735.stm [Accessed 28 August, 2015]; aslo see: HRW. (2013) Venezuela: El legado autoritario de Chávez. Human Rights Watch. [Online] 5 March. Available from: legado-autoritario-de-Chávez [Accessed 28 August, 2015]; also see: FREEDOM HOUSE. (2013) Venezuela. Freedom House. [Online] Available from: world/2013/venezuela#.VeEATLQSNd1 [Accessed 28 August, 2015] 332 EL UNIVERSAL. (2012) UN demands a fair trial in freedom. El Universal. [Online] 4 August. Available from: 333 On 29 December 2012, Herman Sifontes, Juan Carlos Carvallo, Ernesto Rangel and Miguel Osío were released with precautionary measures after been in jail for two years and seven months. They had to report periodically to court and were banned from leaving the country. BLOOMBERG. (2012) Venezuela Releases Four Econoinvest Brokerage Directors on Bail. Bloomberg. [Online] 29 December

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