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Free Carmen Villalba! Paraguay illegally detaining political prisoner

Commentary by Mark Burton |
October 15, 2021
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Carmen Villalba
Carmen Villalba (Fight Back! News/staff)

The Paraguayan government is illegally detaining Carmen Villalba despite her completion of all prison sentences. Carmen Villalba is a political prisoner under arbitrary detention. This violation of the law by Paraguayan officials is a continuation of the vendetta, often deadly, against her and her family.

Carmen Villalba was arrested in 2004 for her revolutionary activities as a member of the Patria Libre (PL) party. Villalba was part of the struggle against the repressive Stroessner government - a bloody dictatorship, fully supported by the United States. Stroessner harshly repressed workers, peasant and indigenous communities in Paraguay. While imprisoned, Villalba joined the EPP (Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo) a guerrilla group that was formed out of the dissolution of the PL.

Carmen remains a potent figure of the people’s movements in Paraguay. This provokes severe repression of her and her family by the government and right-wing forces. In 2010 her son Nestor was assassinated. On September 2, 2020, two nieces of Carmen, Lilian Mariana and Maria Carmen Villalba, both minors and citizens of Argentina, were killed in secret by the Paraguayan army, near the border with Argentina. Carmen’s 14-year-old daughter, Carmen Elizabeth Oviedo Villalba “Lichita”, went missing on November 30, 2020, and is presumed to be the victim of a forced disappearance. Carmen desperately needs to be released to search for her daughter.

Carmen was convicted in three different cases for which she has served time in prison since 2004. She has completed all her sentences but the Paraguayan Court refuses to recognize her time served in one of her cases. In the case in question, Carmen was sentenced to 17 years of imprisonment.

Under Paraguayan Law (Codigo Procesal Penal Art. 494) the court is to take into consideration restrictions on liberty when calculating pre-sentence confinement credit. Carmen was served an arrest warrant from the attorney general and detained on this case on February 28, 2005.

Carmen’s lawyer asked the court to recognize this pre-sentence confinement credit from February 28, 2005 and produced a properly authenticated copy of the warrant. The court claimed that a copy of the warrant could not be found in its file and denied Carmen’s request.

Additionally, the attorney general is unwilling to turn over the document from its file to the court. Because of this legal sleight of hand, Carmen is facing more than a decade of unjust imprisonment. This revolutionary is illegally detained and subject to arbitrary detention.

Supporters of Carmen Villalba have called an international day of action for October 15, 2021. Here in the United States, you can participate by contacting the Paraguayan Embassy at 202-798-7200 or 202-798-8810, or by email at [email protected] and say:

Free Carmen Villalba! ¡Libertad para Carmen Villalba!