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  • Writer's picturePanama Human Rights

Panama Human Rights has found the genetic link between the President and his auntie

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Ambassador Ilka Varela de Barés, aunt to the President of Panamá, accused of Human Rights Violations

The Ambassador of Panama in Portugal, Ilka Varela de Barés is accused of having ordered the torture suffered by Sr. Velez Loor in 2003, an Ecuadorian migrant jailed in Panama.

From the city of Santa Cruz de La Sierra, Bolivia, where he has lived as a refugee since 2006, the Ecuadorian Jesús Tranquilino Vélez Loor, still bears the aftermath on his body of the blows and vexations he suffered in Panama, when he entered the country. He was treated as a criminal, but the most serious thing: he was tried administratively without the right to defence by orders of Ilka Varela de Barés, then head of Migration and Naturalization, while her husband ran the National Police.

That case reached the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH) and after the hearings, this body condemned the Panamanian State and forced it to pay compensation to the victim, and asked the country to make urgent changes in the organization of its ranks. security, migration and prisons. Both phases have been fulfilled. But Vélez Loor, who granted an exclusive interview to En Segundos, still demands justice, because they are still pending.

The judgement of the Inter-American Court of November 23, 2010, also established that the officials appointed by Vélez Loor should be investigated, in order to determine their criminal liability, for a series of violations of the American Convention on Human Rights and international conventions on torture. and persons deprived of their liberty, however, this phase of the ruling has not been completed and, on the contrary, the figure that according to Vélez Loor and the ruling of the Inter-American Court, should be answered for the treatment suffered by this migrant during his ten-month detention, far of going as defendant to answer before the courts has been distinguished in the government of Juan Carlos Varela, as ambassador of Panama in Portugal, since 2014.

Although his visa was in order, Jesús Vélez Loor, like thousands of other migrants, chose to save a few dollars and arrive in Panama after touring the dense jungle between Colombia and Panama, a decision that took him to the limits of death. The nightmare began when he set foot in the province of Darien.

Arrest and torture

"I left Colombia one Sunday in the early morning and arrived one Friday in the area of ​​Nueva Esperanza del Darién,after almost a week in the jungle," he told En Segundos.

There he was arrested by the police cordon that watches the border area, there were many more migrants, but Vélez Loor was wearing a camouflage shirt. That was enough for the police in the area to accuse him of being a member of the then Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and later, they hung him on his arm to a post, so that he "confessed".

"The next day my arm did not react and they moved me in a moored helicopter and they took me to Metetí for a week, from there they moved me to La Palma ( National Police outpost ) and that's when they broke my skull," he said.

This was in the final days of November 2002 while he was detained in La Palma "where we were practically exiled," he became ill with fungus and mange, because the sea water entered the cells with each tide.

Therefore, faced with what he considered an unjust detention, Vélez Loor began a hunger strike that caused his transfer to the La Joyita Penitentiary Center, east of the Cudad of Panama, by order of Varela de Barés.

His strike, far from being heard as a demand for fair treatment, triggered the order to "torture" him. When he arrived at Pavilion 6 of La Joyita in June 2003, where other foreign prisoners were, they told him: "you are condemned with Ilka Varela de Barés".

The arrest of the Ecuadorian was in effect ordered by Varela de Barés in resolution 7306 of November 6, 2002, which ordered the arrest for being "illegal" and for "reasons of security and public order" without further details.

"I did not know who that lady was, nor did I know what judicial position she occupied, I did not know anything, I did not even know that she was the director of Immigration. Mine was an administrative sentence, there was no hearing, there was nothing, they communicated it without any right to the defence, without alleging ... " said Vélez Loor, who also remembers that many others were imprisoned there, in the same condition.

They sent me to a room they call the nightclub, because they put tear gas dust on their private parts ... that's what they did with me, said Vélez Loor.

Velez Loor continued complaining from this prison, here he sewed his mouth with a fishing line and the level of his protest was of such magnitude that other inmates used clandestine telephones to publicize the report to Radio Caracol in Colombia. After this new insurrection, he was transferred to the Pavilion 12 maximum security, where he suffered the blows that have left him without sensitivity in his feet and the partial loss of a testicle, as recorded in a legal medical report obtained by this means.

His time at La Joyita prison was from June 1, 2003 to l September 9, 2003, when he says he was taken to the verge of death and "as if to rid the State of problems". - Sentence and obligations of Panama -Despite all the suffering, Jesús Vélez Loor took the case to the Inter-American Court and on November 23, 2010, the Panamanian State was declared responsible for the violation of personal liberty, judicial guarantees, the principle of legality and the right to personal integrity of this Ecuadorian who sought to reach the United States. The agency requested that Panama effectively and with the utmost diligence, within a reasonable time, develop a criminal investigation in relation to the facts denounced by Mr. Vélez Loor.

"I am asking for justice against the person who ordered that they torture me and illegally prosecute me. If this had not happened, Ilka Varela would not have pronounced this sentence against me, what happened would not have happened, "he said.

Far from the Panamanian courts, Varela de Barés is the ambassador and consul general of Panama in Portugal since the year 2014, earning a monthly salary of $ 1,500 plus $ 4,000 in representation costs. According to the Court's ruling, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stated that Vélez Loor's detention was "arbitrary", since the order was issued. detention on November 12, 2002 until his deportation was authorized on September 10, 2003.

But in Panama, that evidence has not been sufficient. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent information to En Segundos and affirms that "Ms. Ilka Varela de Barés rendered an inquiry before the Prosecutor's Office at the time and did not charge him with charges." In the same communication through the Communication Office of the Chancellery, ensures that "The Panamanian State fulfilled its duty to investigate." They added that the proceedings in the case have been carried out in order to clarify the facts and prove a punishable act ", however neither Varela de Barés, nor the police officers who were identified in the violations established by the Inter-American Court have gone to trial.

However, in the eyes of the Panamanian Ombudsman's Office, this is a situation that is still pending. "One of the faults of compliance with the sentence is the judicial investigation of the facts denounced by Mr. Vélez Loor, in order to determine the corresponding criminal responsibilities and apply, where appropriate, sanctions and other consequences provided by law, "explained the institution in response to questions from En Segundos.La Defensoría says that this aspect had not been met, until the hearing of the follow-up on 20 November, 2017, only six months ago. Perhaps that is why Vélez Loor, when he said goodbye in the interview he gave, left this sentence hanging in the air: "I ask justice please "...


Panamanian diplomat appointed in case of torture before the Inter-American Court


(Equador) - Ambassador to Panama accepts Human Right abuses did take place!


Compensation payment of $60,000 was not enough for Ecuadorian Jesus Velez Loor for the torture he went through whilst being detained in the Republic of Panamá

#PanamáGovernment #PresidentVarela #Panamá #Corruption

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