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August 5, 2005

Demand Justice for Linda (horrific injustice, blogosphere mising the boat)

-- by Thomas Leavitt

[Life is short, you can't respond to everything, but the story below is so utterly horrific (there's a picture of her right after she was rescued that will make you violently ill) and what this woman has had to go through so manifestly unjust (it took a hunger strike to get a trial date set), that I simply had to respond.

If you want an antidote to news coverage of "all pretty white women, all the time", you could hardly pick a better counter-story: and here, they know who the bastard is - they just won't prosecute him! The blogosphere could make a huge difference in this case -- however, a Google search on "Demand Justice For Linda" (and a similar search dropping "Demand" and adding "venezuela") reveal that less than a dozen blogs (mostly those of women/feminists) have picked up on this story. This needs to change!

If you're a blogger, and you care about justice for women, link to their site, and Demand justice for Linda, and for all victims of violence against women. -Thomas]

Four years ago when Venezuelan police rescued 18-year-old Linda from her kidnapper's apartment, she was bruised and cut inside and out and severely malnourished. One nipple had been cut off, her earlobe destroyed, her lip cut off, her skull fractured, and her entire body was covered with cigarette burns.
Despite the fact that Linda's attacker, Luis Carrera Almoina had kept her prisoner for four months while he repeatedly raped and brutally tortured her, Linda's case was passed over by the Venezuelan judicial system 29 times and a total of 59 judges declined to prosecute on her behalf!

When she finally got to coury (after three years of struggle, and a hunger strike on the courthouse steps):

...the judge let the man who'd raped and tortured Linda off scot-free, citing a "lack of evidence." Worse yet, the judge had the gall to order an investigation into Linda on the alleged grounds that she had been part of a prostitution ring.

The appeals court has annulled the verdict (thankfully), but she's still waiting for a new trial date. If you're not moved, and disgusted, and enraged by what has happened to this woman, I gotta wonder if you're human.

Click here to demand justice for Linda, and for all victims of violence against women. It is the absolute least any of us can do.

UPDATE:

It appears that this is getting a lot more play in blogs over the last couple of days -- probably as a result of the IPPA/WHR mailing I saw. So, my guess is that I was premature in thinking the blogosphere had totally missed the boat.

UPDATE1:

I can't post comments, I get "precondition evaluated to false", so something's borked. Therefore, this update, to satisfy folks wondering whether this is a psychops plant:

Here's where the sponsoring org stands: they oppose CAFTA, they oppose the "Gag Rule", they oppose the Bush Administration's interference in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts (this is probably how I got on their email list - the Bush Administration's anti-science ideological idiocy is undermining HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Brazil and elsewhere by forcing funding recipients to condemn sex workers [thus alienating prostitutes, who are a major target of these outreach programs] - see letter to the editor by them on the subject in USA Today: http://www.mrss.com/clients/USA-Today-June-17-2005-Prostitution-OpEd.pdf).

"The International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) and its 46 member associations throughout the Americas are committed to promoting the right of women and men to decide freely the number and spacing of their children and the right to the highest possible level of sexual and reproductive health."

This isn't some lameass faked out pseudo front group organized by the CIA.

Or go look at the "indigenous" reporting: EVERYONE in the country is pissed off (especially the women, who are up in arms about this -- and it is the women bloggers in the U.S. who have picked up on this most emphatically)... this isn't an attempt to smear Chavez, this is the equivalent of that [bleeped] up case in Italy where the judge said the woman couldn't be raped because her jeans were too tight (only far more horrific)... only worse, it appears, because everyone seriously believes that the judge was bribed and pressured into the ruling, by the attacker's wealthy/influential father.

***

http://www.mujeresenaccion.com/mea_supportDocs/mea_pages/mea_publicationsSection/publication10_NOV04/art05us_NOV04.htm

As soon as the incredible decision was known, a chain of reactions occurred in several sectors of the Venezuelan society. Women, through their organizations, demanded from the Supreme Court of Justice, the dismissal of judge Rosa Cadiz, coincident with a similar petition by the Attorney General, the Venezuelan Association of Women Lawyers, political parties and the last one, really unheard of, on October 26, for the first time in almost five years, there was an unanimous vote of government and opposition in the National Assembly, to condemn the sentence and ask for the investigation of the judge. (source: Venezuelan newspaper)

***

The guy who specializes in blogging about Venezuela for Salon, "The Devil's Excrement", has written about this for a while, and specifically references this campaign as linking back to him:

http://blogs.salon.com/0001330/2005/08/03.html

and he's a Chavista sympathizer.

He says, in the comments to his original post on the subject last October:

"I must say the Government has also reacted with outrage, from the People's Ombudsman to Maduro, to the Prosecutors that are asking the judge be fired."

Finally: look through Technorati - all the older posts are in Spanish. Would the Bush Administration push a PR smear that never reaches the American press?!?

Is this enough background checking folks? This is a real case, with a real victim, who is supported by the entire society (Chavista and otherwise) - outside of the corrupt pool of monied elites Chavez is trying to wrest control of the country from.

Suggest that before folks go all paranoid and think something like this is a psyops manuever, that they do background research themselves... the blogosphere is self-correcting, and so far, I haven't seen any "corrections".

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at August 5, 2005 6:46 PM

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Comments

Thomas I am very skeptical about this story, not because I don't believe she was ravaged or that the legal system victimized her again (and again). I do believe those things.

I am very familiar with victims of violence, it is something I have been present for before, during and after. Many times over.

There are things about this story that are way off, my instincts tell me this may be a political tool and that Linda may be in the process of another victimization. First by her aggressor, then the state, now by a group (?)

You see, Planned Parenthood (Allan Guttermacher Institute) is supposed to be about reproductive freedom and health, but is was given a healthy dose of Mellon Money a few years ago and there appears to be a slightly different trajectory at work now.

Then there is the fact that this is Venezuela, not that anybody would ever want to give them a bad public image or anything... Of course not, there aren't any political movements against their government or anything, are there?

Nothing I am saying is meant to imply that she does not deserve to have her day in court or anything remotely like that. I do not believe that a trial will heal her, nor do I believe that she has the internal resources or external support she needs yet.

It is something that is very difficult to explain to someone who is not familiar with that type of violence and the victims in every single stage of the process.

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 6, 2005 10:57 AM

Well, it is NOT Planned Parenthood of America, it is a different organization.

What bothers me is the aspect of associating this with somehow being the fault of the government of Venezuala, which is the target of a huge right-wing propaganda effort right now.

I know nothing else abot the case, but this sets of alarm bells for me.

Posted by: Dave Johnson at August 6, 2005 10:43 PM

Thomas, the source for this is very thin, it seems to be a body creared out of circular links to IPPF /WHR who does not link it at all, unless you do a site search then you get, eight stories, five about policy, one about joining, one about a gathering in Portland, and one about helping tsunami victims.

http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-i=1&sp-q=freechoicesaveslives&sp-a=sp1002669d&sp-advanced=1&sp-p=all&sp-s=1&sp-f=ISO-8859-1&Search=Search&Search.x=24&Search.y=2


IPPF/WHR is the only region of the IPPF that is a separately incorporated entity. It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization, incorporated in New York State. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a separately incorporated affiliate of IPPF/WHR.

IPPF not aligned with planned Parenthood of America International, also IPPF not mentioned on Allan Guttarmacher Institute.

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 7, 2005 7:32 PM

This has been independently documented in media prior to the IPPF/WHR posting. The Salon.com blogger posted about this in October of last year, the Venezuelian media (even discounting their biases) are covering this extensively, and according to them, the National Assembly, both Government AND opposition, unanimously passed a resolution condemning this, and Chavez' own Attorney General is angry.

Here's a petition from petitiononline, full of signatures and comments in Spanish, from Venezuelans themselves...

http://www.petitiononline.com/loaiza/petition.html

With regards to the parent organization, if you follow the money, the Venezuelan org has gotten money from the European Commission and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

And here's who funds Family Care International, an organization headed by one of the members of their board of directors:

http://www.familycareintl.org/support/donor_info.php

I don't see any right wing foundations here... I see lots of mainline foundations.

Here's another member of their Board of Directors, Marysa Navarro , a professor of History at Dartmouth:

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~history/faculty/navarro.html

She co-edited a women's history reference with Gloria Steinem:

http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/women/html/wh_000104_editorsnote.htm

and is co-chair of Catholics For Free Choice.

Are these people dupes?!?

I just don't see the basis for the skepticism as to the nature of this case, or even the sponsoring organization.

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt at August 7, 2005 8:04 PM

Latina Lista has a good post on this issue, and an email from Linda Loaiza:

By email, Linda answered LatinaLista:(text is translated)

"I am actually living in the capital with my two sisters. Soon, I will start college. But for right now, I am pursuing justice. In addition, I am dedicated to working for the foundation that I organized: Friends of Linda Loaiza Foundation, for the prevention of the mistreatment against women and whatever offense against human rights.

I will constantly fight so that Womenkind are not discriminated against or abused."

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 17, 2005 7:26 PM

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