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Juan Requesens is a Deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly, elected in 2015 and sworn in on 5 January 2016. He was a student leader at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), and a leader of student opposition protesters during the 2014 Venezuelan protests. He led marches opposing the Government of Venezuela under President Nicolás Maduro, seeking "to turn the student rebellion into a broader social movement".[1]

Juan Requesens
Juan Requesens talking to VOA in 2017.png
Requesens in 2017
Deputy of the National Assembly
for Táchira
Assumed office
5 January 2016
Member of the Commission on Domestic Policy [es]
In office
January 2018 – August 2018
President of the Commission for Social Development and Integration [es]
In office
18 January 2017 – 30 January 2018
Preceded byMiguel Pizarro
Succeeded byJosé Manuel Olivares
Personal details
Born
Juan Carlos Requesens Martínez

(1989-03-17) March 17, 1989 (age 30)
Caracas, Venezuela
Political partyPrimero Justicia
Other political
affiliations
Democratic Unity Roundtable
Spouse(s)
Orianna Granati (m. 2015)
Children2
Alma materCentral University of Venezuela

Requesens was arrested in August 2018;[2] as of April 2019, he remains imprisoned without hearings or trial.

Contents

Student politicsEdit

In 2011, Requesens was elected the student president of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV),[3] where he began his political endeavors, studying political science.[4][5] Requesens began demonstrations against the Venezuelan government in January 2013 when he helped organize a joint protest of students from UCV and Andrés Bello Catholic University.[6] He was still the president in 2014, becoming a leader for the mass protests that year, and facing threats after another student leader at the Universidad Nacional Experimental del Táchira was killed.[1] At UCV, he used Twitter to hold student debates,[7] and The Washington Post noted he was a talented public speaker.[1]

Requesens said in 2014 that his political idol was former Venezuelan president Rómulo Betancourt, who is known as the "father of Venezuelan democracy".[1] According to The Washington Post, he is a "social democrat" who believes in "equality of opportunity" and a "market economy with social goals".[1]

2014 Venezuelan protestsEdit

 
Requesens talking to a police officer during a protest in 2014

Requesens frequently used technology to organize people; the 12,000 Twitter followers he had at the beginning of 2014 had increased to 450,000 by March, and he was able to assemble protests against the government from his cellphone.[1]

The main demands of Requesens' movement were for the release of protesters who had been jailed and justice for protesters killed and allegedly tortured. After rising to notoriety in early 2014, Requesens was pressured by the Venezuelan government to encourage violent protestors to stand down, particularly in the state of Táchira where the violence broke out. He was also asked to attend meetings with President Maduro, but refused because of the human rights abuses; he then requested that if a meeting were to be held with Maduro, that it would be broadcast live on television. The Washington Post said that Requesens "insist[ed] that Maduro free jailed protesters and meet other preconditions" before he would meet with him.[1] He believed then that asking for Maduro's removal as President was a "dead end" and said that the "strategy of escalating confrontation will just give the government the chance to discredit us and continue with more repression".[1] According to The Washington Post, he was more like Henrique Capriles in "tone and strategy", and more moderated than the "hard-line wing" of opposition from Maria Corina Machado and Leopoldo López.[1]

National AssemblyEdit

Shortly after he was elected in 2015 to the National Assembly, Requesens' sister, Rafaela Requesens, and a friend, Eladio Hernández, were kidnapped by unknown parties in the state of Táchira.[8]

Requesens was assigned to the National Assembly Commission for Social Development and Integration. In April 2016, amid teaching strikes, Requesens and Miguel Pizarro volunteered to work on the Education Law bill — which had not been developed in over a decade — to raise teachers' minimum wage and bring standards into law.[9] By 2016, Requesens was calling for Maduro's resignation.[10]

Requesens attempted to run for Governor of Táchira, the state for which he was already a deputy, in 2017. However, the electoral commission refused to accept pre-candidates to the ballot, and so votes in his favor were not counted, something he spoke against in the Assembly the day after the vote.[11][12]

In early 2018, Requesens was part of the faction of the Assembly that formed a coalition called the Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre to ask for free elections in the country, and for Maduro to leave, saying that the opposition and country has to move forward civilly.[13]

Experiences of violenceEdit

Requesens and Juan Pablo Guanipa [es] were briefly detained on 30 November 2017 when they tried to cross the border to Colombia.[14] In May 2018, Requesens was one of the politicians to step in when press personnel were being attacked by guards outside the parliamentary buildings, fighting with the soldiers;[15] the same day, Requesens and Carlos Paparoni were attacked and held down when trying to come to the defense of journalists outside the Supreme Court.[16] He rejoined street protests the next day, rejecting elections due later in the week.[17]

2017 Venezuelan protestsEdit

 
Requesens at a protest in 2017

Requesens was back on the street in 2017, now as an elected deputy. In April 2017, Requesens was with other young protestors marching on the Ombudsman's office when he was attacked, along with another deputy. He was hit in the head and received deep cuts on his face. According to José Manuel Olivares, Requesens had to have surgery to fix broken bones including his nose and jaw, and to stitch up his forehead. The march had been calling for the resignations of the Justices of the Supreme Court.[18]

In June 2017, Requesens was again attacked, this time by members of the Bolivarian National Guard — though he referred to them as "colectivos" in an interview on Unión Radio [es] — who then threw him down a sewer drain, as well as stealing from him and others.[19] The Colombian government issued a communication denouncing the excessive use of violence, especially against politicians, and sought to remind Venezuelan military officials that their Constitution requires them to prevent unnecessary violence towards protestors.[20]

ArrestEdit

On 7 August 2018, Requesens had given a speech in Venezuela's National Assembly blaming Maduro for causing unrest in the nation.[21][22] In this speech, he used the saying, "I refuse to give up":

"I refuse to give up, I refuse to kneel in front of those who want to break our morale. Today I can speak from here, tomorrow I do not know. What I want to reaffirm is that we are going to continue doing everything we can to take Nicolás Maduro out of power."[22]

Requesens was arrested that day by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN). He was detained as a suspect in the Caracas drone attack, an alleged assassination plot on the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. The circumstances of his arrest and detention are controversial,[23][24] and irregularities surround the legal proceedings.[25] He has been imprisoned in El Helicoide[26] since his arrest, with allegations of torture to coerce a confession,[a] and delays impeding the legal process and hearings.[27]

Requesens' detention has been condemned by the National Assembly – as well as international diplomats, politicians and organizations – and large protests have been held in Venezuela demanding that he be freed.[b] His relatives and fellow politicians have stated that they believe he was arrested for criticizing Maduro.[28] The National Assembly condemned the detention of Requesens as a forced disappearance.[29]

The Twitter hashtag "#YoMeNiegoARendirme" – Spanish for "I refuse to give up" – became a popular slogan for his case,[30][31] and a creed for the opposition.[22]

Personal lifeEdit

Requesens' father is a doctor and his mother is an English teacher, his sister is the activist Rafaela Requesens.[1] Requesens is married to Orianna Granati,[32] and they have two young children.[22]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ For allegations of torture, see the Video controversy section at Detention of Juan Requesens
  2. ^ For national and international reaction to the detention of Requesens, see the Responses section of Detention of Juan Requesens

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Miroff, Nick (11 March 2014). "Student who lives with parents rises as a leader in Venezuela's protests". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  2. ^ Smith, Scott (7 August 2018). "Venezuela's President ties opposition leader to drone attack". Fox News. Associated Press. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Juan Requesens es el nuevo presidente de la FCU de la UCV" [Juan Requesens is the new president of the Central University Federation of the Central University of Venezuela] (in Spanish). Notiactual. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  4. ^ Rosati, Andrew (20 February 2014). "Will Venezuela's protests fizzle out?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Student leader Requesens rises as leader in Venezuelan protests". UPI. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Lideres estudiantiles anuncian protestas pacíficas para este viernes" [Student leaders announce peaceful protests for this Friday] (in Spanish). La Patilla. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  7. ^ "El 'toma y dame' entre Juan Requesens y Kevin Ávila" [The 'give and take' between Juan Requesens and Kevin Ávila]. Diario de Caracas (in Spanish). 12 July 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  8. ^ "Hermana de Juan Requesens fue liberada tras secuestro en Táchira". Panorama Venezuela. 16 December 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Maestros exigen cuatro salarios "como mínimo" para dignificar su trabajo". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Requesens: 8 de cada 10 venezolanos quiere que Maduro salga de Miraflores ya". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). 19 October 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  11. ^ "MUD denuncia que CNE impide sustitución de candidaturas a las gobernaciones". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  12. ^ "La Constituyente rompió la Unidad en la Asamblea Nacional este 24 Oct". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Florido: Decimos a la ONU que queremos mejores condiciones para participar en presidenciales". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  14. ^ "GNB retuvo a Juan Pablo Guanipa y a Juan Requesens en la frontera con Colombia". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Agresiones del coronel Lugo a camarógrafo y diputada quedan registradas en video". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Periodistas, mujeres y políticos son blancos para el mano suelta del coronel Lugo". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Oposición retoma la calle para rechazar comicios del 20 de mayo". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  18. ^ "Diputados Juan Requesens y José Brito heridos por grupos afectos al Gobierno". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Requesens califica de "colectivos" a los GNB que lo agredieron el 5 Jun". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Colombia rechaza las agresiones de la GNB contra diputados Pizarro y Requesens". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Requesens y la derrota del régimen". Noticiero Universal (in Spanish). 20 August 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  22. ^ a b c d León, Ibis (9 August 2018). "Encarcelamiento de diputado Requesens unió a las fracciones opositoras en la AN". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Dictadura en pleno desarrollo: Así se llevaron a los golpes a los hermanos Requesens (VIDEO)" [Dictatorship in full swing: Taking the coup to the Requesens siblings]. La Patilla (in Spanish). 7 August 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  24. ^ Smith, Scott (7 August 2018). "Venezuela's President Ties Opposition Leader to Drone Attack". US News. Associated Press. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  25. ^ Moreno Losada, Vanessa (15 August 2019). "Siete irregularidades en detención y audiencia del diputado Juan Requesens" [Seven irregularities of the detention and hearing of Rep. Juan Requesens]. Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Requesens trasladado desde Helicoide a Palacio de Justicia" [Requesens transferred from Helicoide to Justice Palace]. El Nacional (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Audiencia de Juan Requesens fue diferida para marzo" [Audience of Juan Requesens was deferred for March]. Tal Cual Digital (in Spanish). 22 February 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019. Si tengo que estar preso por defender a los que no tienen salud, por defender a los chamos de la resistencia, por defender a los venezolanos, voy a estar 20.000 veces preso porque lo volveré a hacer.
  28. ^ "Venezuelan officials release video from jailed lawmaker". AP News. 10 August 2018. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Condenan desaparición forzada de Juan Requesens". El Nacional (in Spanish). 10 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  30. ^ Sierra, Mayra Alejandra (13 September 2018). "Vergara: Venezolanos huyen de una crisis hambreadora creada por Maduro" (in Spanish). Asamblea Nacional – Gobierno Venezolano. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  31. ^ Leon, Rafael (7 September 2018). "Esposa de Requesens: "Hace un mes secuestraron a Juan, un hombre inocente"". El Nacional (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  32. ^ "Esposa de Requesens rompe el silencio tras compartir emotivo mensaje (Video)" [Requesens' wife breaks silence by sharing an emotional message (video)]. Venezuela al día (in Spanish). 11 August 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2018.

External linksEdit