Independent Institute Fellow Victim of Chavez’s Abuses

On the evening of May 25, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa was detained for questioning for almost three hours by Venezuelan authorities following his arrival at the Caracas International Airport.

Since the officers in charge of his custody forgot to take away his cell phone, he was able to answer a call from Globovisión, a Venezuelan television network opposed to Chavez´s regime, which broadcast the conversation live. Alvaro believes that call was key to his release since it rapidly spread the news of his detention through media outlets worldwide, placing pressure on the ruling dictatorship.

Alvaro traveled to Caracas to attend a forum on freedom and democracy organized by the Center for the Dissemination of Economic Knowledge (CEDICE), a Caracas-based free-market think tank. He is scheduled to speak at an event commemorating the organization’s 25th anniversary, along with other distinguished lecturers including Alex Chafuen, Manuel Ayau Cordón, Enrique Ghersi, Jorge Castañeda, Guy Sorman and his own father Mario Vargas Llosa.

In a radio interview, Alvaro told how without any explanations the police withheld his passport and took him to a room reserved for smugglers, where they interrogated him and among others things asked him to identify his “accomplices”. He also anticipated that his father Mario will surely undergo similar treatment when he arrives in Caracas on Wednesday.

Before his release, authorities warned him that as a foreign visitor he’s prohibited from “making political statements” during his visit to Venezuela. This morning, Alvaro told a journalist in Buenos Aires that he was only “smuggling” ideas on liberty and free markets and that he will continue criticizing President Hugo Chávez as usual, even though those actions could result in his deportation from the country.

“As a citizen of Peru, a country which was also liberated by Simón Bolivar, I have the right to defend my ideas,” added Alvaro.

Gabriel Gasave is a Research Fellow and Director of at the Independent Institute.
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