Group of Venezuelans Demand Closure of “Torture Centers” in Times Square
NEW YORK – A group of Venezuelans took to the streets of Times Square on Tuesday evening to urge the international community gathered at the UN General Assembly to demand the closure of “torture centers” in their home country. The activists, wearing black t-shirts, immersed passersby in the virtual reality experience of the Helicoide, a notorious detention center in Caracas described as the largest torture center in Latin America.
Led by Víctor Navarro, a journalist and director of the organization Voces de la Memoria, the group of fifty activists, including 30 former political prisoners, sought to recreate the harrowing conditions of the cells and offer firsthand testimonies. “People are seeing and hearing torture, seeing how a political prisoner lives in the conditions in which Maduro is currently torturing in Venezuela,” Navarro explained.
Navarro himself had spent five months in the Helicoide after his house was raided by agents from the intelligence service in 2018. “Every day is tortuous, because they seek to dehumanize the most intimate part of your being and you never know if you are going to get out: they play with your mind and torture you,” he shared. Now having refugee status in Argentina, Navarro joined other Venezuelans from different corners of the world to raise their voices in New York.
Highlighting the “political” aspect of their demonstration near the UN, Navarro stressed that “democratic governments must demand that the Nicolás Maduro regime close the centers of torture and release political prisoners.” He also directed messages towards the United States and the European Union, urging them to acknowledge the arbitrary detention of Venezuelans in their home country and worldwide.
The activists’ protest shines a light on the human rights violations in Venezuela and calls for urgent action from the international community. While the focus centers on the closure of “torture centers,” Navarro also emphasized the existence of similar facilities in other countries throughout the region. Venezuelans, he noted, are raising their voices not only for their own citizens but for all those suffering in such facilities.
As the group continues to bring attention to the pressing issue, the hope is that their efforts will contribute to the progress of human rights in Venezuela and encourage governments worldwide to take a stand against torture and the arbitrary detention of political prisoners.
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