Over a month had passed since his escape, and yet there were no signs of his whereabouts. Former Venezuelan political prisoner, Iván Simonovis, unexpectedly appeared in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2019.
Simonovis, a former Director of Security at the Caracas Metropolitan Municipality, was arrested on November 2004 and accused by late President Hugo Chávez’s administration of the violence that took place in Caracas on April 11, 2002. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was pardoned by interim President, Juan Guaido, on May 16, 2019 after serving 15 years.
Although Guaido’s pardon granted Simonovis his freedom, it did not immediately put an end to his house arrest, or provide a free ride out of the country. Simonovis began his escape by climbing down a 75 foot wall with a rope and, with a pair of shears, he cut his ankle monitor. He then moved from one safe house to another until finally eluding forces loyal to Nicolas Maduro. He fled on a fishing boat and later managed to pilot a plane flying to safety. Simonovis’ expertise came to play when preparing his escape.
Read more about Simonovis’ captivity and story of survival here
Upon his arrival to DC, his agenda included meetings at the Department of State and the US Congress.He met with Democrat and Republican Representatives and Senators to describe the realities of the political prisoners in Venezuela and the violation of human rights.
On May 26, 2019, Simonovis offered the first press conference after being released. Among other things, he recounted how he only had access to sunlight 33 days throughout 9 years of imprisonment and what his plans in the US are: “I came here to work and work for my country’s freedom,” he said.
To do so, Simonovis plans on pushing more actions against Maduro by using “his law enforcement background to assist US authorities investigating corruption, drug trafficking and alleged links to terrorist groups by Venezuelan officials. He’s also looking to help Guaidó develop a blueprint for improving urban security should he take power,” according to Associated Press.
by Francisco Medina, Dubraska Vale, and Marlon Correa