1. Leocenis García.
A. – Leocenis García, Venezuelan journalist and businessman. Author of the books “Rebel with a Cause” and “The Badger Rebellion”.
B. -He was a majority shareholder of the publishing house Grupo 6to Poder, which was taken over by the regime of Nicolás Maduro.
C. Founded on June 1, 2016, while in prison, the center-right movement Prociudadanos of liberal tendency, which defends freedom, free enterprise, non-intervention of the State in the economy and the right to property. Known for its social programs to help poor people.
D. -Leocenis García, was politically disqualified without being a public official in 2021, in violation of Venezuelan law, because he was leading the polls in voting intentions to win the Caracas Mayor’s Office. Leocenis García has been persecuted for more than 10 years as detailed in this report by the Chavista regime.
E. His name became notorious in his country after he presented himself with a wheelbarrow of alleged evidence of corruption in the National Assembly in 2007. Previously, he had brought to light a case known as Antonin’s suitcase (in allusion to the Chavista businessman Antonini Wilson who was prosecuted in the USA in a Miami court), a briefcase with 800 thousand dollars, seized in an Argentinean Airport, the case revealed a network of deposits from Pdvsa to Cristina Kirchner’s campaign in Argentina. For that case, prosecutor Gineira Jackimam issued an arrest warrant for him, arguing that he was obstructing justice.
F. He worked for the newspapers Reporte Diario de la Economía, La Razón and later founded in 2008 Grupo 6to Poder. He was imprisoned in 2008. One year after his captivity, and still detained in the Tocuyito Prison, he was proposed by Henry Ramos Allup, secretary general of the Democratic Action party, to head the list of candidates to the National Assembly for the state of Carabobo. Months later he resigned from the candidacy when he was released; he became the campaign manager of other political prisoners aspiring for a seat in the National Assembly. One year after his release from Tocuyito prison, where he was held for 27 months, García was accused by the president of the Supreme Court of Justice and the ‘Defensora del Pueblo’ of attempting “against the institutions” for a photomontage that appeared in his magazine 6to Poder. An arrest warrant was issued for him. On August 31, 2011, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its deep concern over the decision to temporarily prohibit the circulation of the weekly magazine Sexto Poder in Venezuela, as well as the arrest, detention and criminal prosecution of Leocenis García. For the Special Rapporteur’s Office, these actions were contrary to regional standards on freedom of expression and generated a notable intimidating and self-censorship effect that compromised not only the persons directly affected but all the media in Venezuela. Leocenis surrendered to the authorities after he challenged the head of state, Hugo Chávez to reopen 6to Poder. The government gave in and García presented himself at a National Guard command. That same day, former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe condemned García’s detention and García was transferred in a plane of the secret police, known as El SEBIN, and held in El Helicoide. His detention lasted until November 24 of that year, when he was released in the midst of a media hunger strike in protest of his captivity.
G. In 2013, after the closing of 6to Poder, he was arrested by officers of the Military Intelligence Division (DIM) and subsequently charged by the Attorney General’s Office for alleged crimes of tax evasion and money laundering. The accusation had been made by the PSUV deputy, Julio Chávez. While in prison, García started a hunger strike which lasted a little over a month. Due to his state of health as a result of the hunger strike, on September 28 he was allowed to continue his trial in freedom. On March 22, 2015, he was arrested again by armed men, dressed as civilians, who forced him into a vehicle. According to press reports, García’s alternative measure of release was revoked. While detained at the SEBIN (Bolivarian Intelligence Service) headquarters, on May 4, 2015, he began a second hunger strike, which forced his transfer on May 12 to the Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital, under the care of the Venezuelan Ministry of Defense. Garcia was publicly accused from the Venezuelan state television channel of crimes such as tax evasion.15 According to the government , Garcia was a protagonist of crimes against the State, however the Inter American Press Society and the Church came out in defense of the alleged “slander against Leocenis” His protest lasted 87 days and he was finally put in his house, under the modality of house in jail.
H. The group 6to Poder was founded by García in March 2008 and was closed by the Venezuelan government.20 Although the government closed it with armed men in 2015, it had suffered in the preceding years, numerous raids and closures ordered by the Chavista regime. García founded the group and made it grow rapidly, adding a financial publication known as El Comercio, as well as a magazine known as USEX, a sort of Play Boy of Venezuela. On March 22, 2016, important Venezuelan politicians, intellectuals and journalists signed a public document condemning García’s year of detention and the closure of 6to Poder, calling the government a “totalitarian regime “21 Ambassador Diego Arria, as well as former Minister of Interior and Justice, Asdrubal Aguiar, were among the signatories, together with Rocío San Miguel and Teresly Malave of the human rights organizations Control Ciudadano y Justicia and Proceso Venezuela. On April 13, 2016, the Media Commission of the National Assembly received the attorney Yisell Soarez Padron, representative of the conglomerate 6to Poder, and ordered an investigation, qualifying the fact as alleged political persecution.
I. On July 4, 2016, in the evening hours, García’s ‘Casa por Cárcel’ measure was revoked, through the release of an arrest warrant against him, an unprecedented fact, taking into account that García was already detained inside his home. The journalist’s defense argued that such sentence was due to a controversial letter that García wrote a week before his arrest, in which he condemned the actors willing to participate in the national dialogue promoted by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, among whom was the former president of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. After his arrest, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, José Luis Almagro, expressed concern about what happened, considering that with the revocation of the measure, the government of President Nicolás Maduro was once again attacking freedom of expression in Venezuela.
J. Garcia was then detained until the last day of that year, when on New Year’s Eve he was released along with seven students and former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, whom the opposition to the socialist regime considered as political prisoners. García gave a controversial press conference three days later, where he asked to remain at a negotiation table between the government and the opposition, in order to free some hundreds of political prisoners. The following day the president of Unasur, Ernesto Samper, greeted and expressed his solidarity with García’s call. A group of relatives and political prisoners did the same. Although García had opposed Zapatero, at the Dialogue table, his sister met in October, while he was detained with the former Spanish president. In February 2017, only a month after his release, former Spanish President Rodríguez Zapatero himself met with García, who advocated for other so-called political prisoners.
K. On Monday, February 11, 2019, García was detained at the Maturín airport, without any warrant. The Attorney General of the Republic dismissed by the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly (ANC), Luisa Ortega Díaz condemned the arbitrary detention of the national coordinator of ProCiudadanos, by the regime of Nicolás Maduro: “It is inadmissible that Leocenis García, Leopoldo López, Juan Requesens and any Venezuelan is in prison for their way of thinking. Very soon ALL political prisoners will be released and reinvigorated by the State after their unjust imprisonment. This is my commitment!” she expressed in her official Twitter account. Ortega’s call had been preceded earlier by the exhortation made by the recently appointed Venezuelan ambassador to the US, Carlos Vecchio, who stated through his official Twitter account: “We condemn the arbitrary detention of Leocenis García and demand his release and guarantee his integrity #
liberenalosprespresosospolitic os” (free the political prisoners). Vecchio was not only one of the diplomats appointed by the president in charge Juan Guaidó – with whom García had met days before his detention to deliver a Transitional Justice Law – but he is also founder of Leopoldo López’ Voluntad Popular party.