OAKLAND, Calif., May 27, 2009Venezuelan officials detained Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa for nearly three hours at the Caracas International Airport on Monday. Following his arrival in the country to speak at a pro-liberty forum organized by the Center for the Dissemination of Economic Knowledge (CEDICE), an independent Caracas-based think tank, Vargas Llosa’s luggage and documents were confiscated and he was guarded by military officials who refused to answer his questions regarding the detainment.
After nearly two hours, Vargas Llosa received a call on his cell phone from Globovisión, a private television news network. He managed to conduct a two-minute interview with Globovisión’s Leopoldo Castillo in which he detailed his situation and expressed support for free-market and democratic values. Authorities intercepted the call only after realizing the interview went live on television. He was subsequently interrogated before finally being released with a warning to refrain from making any political statements while in the country.
In an email received yesterday by Independent Institute staff, Vargas Llosa expressed disgust with the hypocrisy of the officials’ warning, pointing out that the restriction “does not seem to apply to the many pro-Chavez foreign visitors who come to Venezuela all the time to express their very public support.”
Vargas Llosa conducted a flurry of radio interviews across Latin America in the wake of his detainment and intends to continue with his scheduled speaking engagements while in Venezuela.
Venezuelan officials harassed several other speakers attending the CEDICE forum, including Vargas Llosa’s father and renowned Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, and Emil Kirjas, the Macedonian Vice President of Liberal International.
For details on the event, please see: http://www.cedice.org.ve/detalle.asp?id=2790 <http://www.cedice.org.ve/detalle.asp?id=2790>
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