Rocío San Miguel, Venezuelan rights activist and lawyer, detained and reported missing

Rocío San Miguel is the director of Control Ciudadano and a vocal critic of the government of President Nicolás Maduro, Image by Global Voices.

Rocío San Miguel, a lawyer, human rights activist, and director of Citizen Control — an NGO that oversights matters of security, defense, and the National Armed Forces in Venezuela — was detained and taken to an undisclosed location on February 9 at the Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía International Airport, near capital city Caracas, while she and her daughter waited a flight to Miami.

Besides San Miguel's arrest, five of her relatives were also detained: Miranda Díaz San Miguel, her daughter; her brothers, Miguel Ángel and Alberto San Miguel; her father, Victor Díaz Paruta; and former partner Alejandro González. The whereabouts of San Miguel and her family are still unknown.

Sixty hours after her detention, Venezuela's attorney general, Tarek William Saab, posted on X (formerly Twitter) that San Miguel was detained for her alleged involvement “in the conspiracy plot and attempted assassination” of President Nicolas Maduro. The attorney general did not say where she is or what security body is holding her.


The Public Ministry #reports the arrest of the citizen Rocío del Carmen San Miguel Sosa by virtue of an arrest warrant for being allegedly linked and referenced in the conspiratorial plot and attempted assassination called “White Bracelet”, whose objective was to attack the life of the Head of State Nicolás Maduro and other high officials; as well as the attack on several military units in San Cristóbal (Tachira) and other entities in the country.

These investigations will continue their course, collecting evidence from people related to these serious events inside and outside the country. As always, we adhere to the provisions of our Constitution, the laws of the Republic, and national and international standards for protecting Human Rights.

Juan González Taguaruco, one of San Miguel's defense lawyers, explained in a press conference that “it is not known which police agency detained her, where she is detained, which court she is under, or what prosecutor is directing the investigation. We can speak with complete propriety about a forced disappearance. Attorney General Saab knew that he had to present her within a period of no more than 48 hours, and he did not do so,” he added.

Fifty-seven-year-old San Miguel is one of the public spokespersons with the greatest knowledge of the military sphere in Venezuela and a prominent human rights defender. Last week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) urged the Venezuelan Government to comply with the 2018 ruling in the Lista Tascón case, a legal crusade that started almost two decades ago by San Miguel, Thais Peña and Magaly Chang.

The Tascón List is one of Venezuela's most iconic cases of political sectarianism during chavismo, based on a list with the names of thousands of Venezuelans who requested in 2003 the activation of a constitutional referendum against then-president Hugo Chávez Frías. The three women had been fired on 2004 from the National Border Council due to the Tascón List: “We have been fighting for justice, truth and reparation in this case for almost 20 years,” San Miguel herself stressed on X.

The Inter-American Court requests the Venezuelan State to comply with the ruling in the “Lista Tascón” case and gives the government until May 6, 2024 to present a compliance report

This is the case of San Miguel Sosa and others Vs. Venezuela.

We listen to the President of the Republic, on the occasion of the Solemn Opening Session of the Judicial Year 2024, talk about justice and truth. 

Three women have been fighting for justice, truth and reparation in this case for almost 20 yearsThe state must comply with the sentence of @CorteIDH

The journalist and human rights activist Luis Carlos Díaz published an Instagram post noting that San Miguel and her daughter have had precautionary measures of protection by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) since 2012 after facing harassment and persecution by Maduro's government.

More political persecution during elections

San Miguel's arrest comes weeks after 36 government critics were arrested and 22 are wanted by the Venezuelan justice system, suspected of being involved in five alleged conspiracy plans to kill President Nicolás Maduro, the attorney general reported in a press conference this Friday.

On January 17, Víctor Venegas, president of the Fenatev education workers union in the state of Barinas, western of the country, was also arrested for alleged conspiracy against Maduro. The attorney general claimed on X that Venegas “is involved in the development of activities against peace of the Republic and was part of a nucleus that sought to turn the state Barinas into the epicenter of violent actions.” Venegas whereabouts have been unknown for almost a month. 

Currently, Maduro's government is preparing to announce the date of the 2024 presidential election and has already banned the popular opposition candidate who earned 92.5 percent of the opposition votes in the primary elections, María Corina Machado. On December 6, the Attorney General issued an arrest warrant against prominent members of María Corina Machado's team for allegedly receiving financing from Exxon Mobil to conspire against the referendum for Guayana Esequiba.

The Public Ministry informs the public that on the occasion of the most recent revealed conspiracy against the Venezuelan people, Víctor Venegas has been detained to be prosecuted before the competent authorities.

Said citizen is involved in the development of activities against peace of the Republic and was part of a nucleus that sought to turn the state Barinas into the epicenter of violent actions. Once the plan is revealed, this group is in the process of being dismantelled .

The Public Ministry continues to work in defense of peaceful coexistence, the debate of ideas and the defense of democracy, always within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic.

Caracas, January 17, 2024.

Tarek William Saab

Attorney General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Since these alleged assassination conspiracies were reported, Maduro's government has linked them to opposition leaders, United States intelligence agents, and the Colombian Army, all recurring targets of the Venezuelan government in this type of accusations.

Since the detentions were announced, Maduro said in the Maduro Podcast that the opposition “broke the Barbados Agreement by being involved in five conspiracies” and that these announcements put in doubt the political agreements on the presidential elections reached in a dialogue mediated by Norway.

Several non-governmental organizations and political parties rejected the arrest of San Miguel through the hashtag #DondeEstáRocio (Where is Rocio).

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