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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Karla Vanessa Escobar Maldonado

Detained Since: April 30, 2020.

Charges: Narcotics trafficking and illegal carry of weapons.

Sentence: 13 years and 6 months in prison.

Biography: Karla Vanessa Escobar Maldonado was first detained on January 3, 2019 and publicly accused of illegal possession of firearms, kidnapping, and terrorism, none of which were ever brought to trial nor the charges ever formally brought against her during or after her 70 days of detention. She was released on March 15, 2019, along with 50 political defendants that the government felt obligated to release, during what was considered a product of the national and international pressure for the freedom of political prisoners in 2019. During her arrest, three motorcycles, two laptops, a tablet, and iPhone 4, jewelry and 2,000 dollars were taken and never returned. She was detained again on April 30, 2020 at her house as she was gardening. In the second detention, she was accused of narcotics trafficking and illegal carry of weapons. She was tried and sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison.

Front Line Defenders has reported that Karla Vanessa suffers from thyroid and uterine issues, aggravated by the poor health and hygiene conditions of La Esperanza prison. Upon visiting her in detention, Karla’s family has noted that she has lost hair and considerable weight. When she presented symptoms of fever and body pain consistent with Covid-19, she was not treated adequately nor timely. It has also been reported that Karla Vanessa has had an allergic reaction to chlorine, the heat, and confinement conditions. At a hearing to decide Karla Vanessa’s pre-trial detention status, gel alcohol and a mask was authorized, but the authorization of “medications to strengthen the immune system” was denied. While the Judge presiding over the pre-trial detention hearing allegedly verified that Karla had been receiving medical treatment for the illness she suffers from, her relatives have reportedly attempted to enter in medicine for both her thyroid and blood pressure issues, as well as food and personal hygiene products, but they have been denied entry. On May 26, 2020, Karla Vanessa’s lawyer tried to visit her at the Comprehensive Women’s Penitentiary Center, but penitentiary staff did not allow her to enter. On June 15, 2020, Karla Vanessa reportedly continued to have symptoms suspicious of COVID-19, and it was reported that other prisoners had bet her on orders of the guards. Between June and July 2020, Karla vanessa was the victim of multiple attacks of harassment and threats from guards and other inmates, and Karla’s sister, Maritza Escobar, informed the media that during a family visit they noticed Karla Vanessa was losing her hair and had lost considerable weight.

Advocate: Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA)