U.S. Helmer Jailed in Venezuela Moved to Notorious Prison

U.S. Helmer Jailed Venezuela Moved Notorious

Plight of Tim Tracy stirs voice of human rights community

U.S. documentary filmmaker Tim Tracy, arrested in Venezuela for alleged espionage last April, was transferred May 29 to the notorious El Rodeo II prison outside Caracas.

Tracy and 20 others were transferred from their cells within the government intelligence service building because of a severe bacterial outbreak. Tracy is slated to attend a hearing on June 11, which will determine whether his case will proceed to trial or he will be released.

Human rights director Patricia Andrade of Miami-based Venezuela Awareness Foundation said the El Rodeo II prison is virtually a death sentence for him.

“He’s a political prisoner and I don’t understand why the Venezuelan government is committing the horror, not error, of sending him there,” said Andrade. “ El Rodeo is for convicted prisoners and Tracy hasn’t even been tried yet, and he can’t even speak Spanish well.”

El Rodeo II was the site of a riot in 2011 where 25 people, including visitors, were killed during a shootout between two gangs within the prison complex.

“El Rodeo is an overcrowded jungle where hundreds of inmates have been killed over the years in riots, violence and attacks,” said Russell Dallen, managing partner of Caracas Capital Markets and publisher of Latin American Herald Tribune. “Sending him to this fifth circle of hell — and away from the headquarters of the (government’s) intelligence service — clearly is an acknowledgment that he was not a spy. Where are Sean Penn and Oliver Stone now?”

Tracy was arrested April 24 for allegedly funneling funds to student groups opposing the new government of President-elect Nicolas Maduro, who won the post-Chavez elections April 14 by a tiny margin. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles led accusations of electoral fraud as thousands took to the streets in protest, with seven reported killed amid the civil unrest. Tracy was picked up soon after, along with the videos he had been filming for a documentary he was making about the political situation in Venezuela.

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  1. This is an outrage. I know Tim Tracy. He was part of my crew on a Discovery Channel I did last year about Homeland Security on the Northern Border. We worked side by side together for three months. He’d never made a feature length film before so he asked me for advice. We talked extensively about the film he wanted to make in Venezuela. His plan was to present both sides of the story. He had a camera, he had a little money and he had the time to put his fledgling passion into action. Tim can be stubborn. He can even be a pain in the ass. But anyone who knows him understands how ridiculous the charge that he’s a CIA spy is. The truth is that the government down there, under increasing pressure for having stolen the election needed a distraction. So they snagged Tim in the hopes that the US government would protest and they’d have a fight with the gringos on their hands to distract attention from their actions during the election. It’s bad enough that this naive kid has been in prison for two months. But to now move him to this death trap is an outrage. Where’s the US Embassy?

  2. Franco says:

    I am very sorry about Tim Tracy. As a Venezuelan Film Maker, I did a doc film about hte Venezuelan situation in 2007. It could have happened to me. He was send to EL RODEO, if you remember MIDNIGHT EXPRESS by PARKER WRITTEN BY STONE, that prisson in Turkey was a holiday ressort in comparison to EL RODEO IN VENEZUELA. Hope Tim keeps a strong mind

  3. mike a says:

    Very good comment, “where is Sean Penn” now? We, (the US) should start dealing w/ Venezuela, soon, the same way Israel does; bomb ’em first and THEN, 10 mins later, ask for our citizen back.

    • Franco says:

      Let us keep PENN AND STONE OUT OF IT. They should go and fight for American realities, but in Penn’s case, is easy to be an opinion giver when you are invited as king to visit a country.
      and Stone did a film about South American presidents from the point of view of HUGO CHAVEZ PERSONAL AIRPLANE…. This gacts used to be called PROPAGANDA in Russia’s

  4. CitizenTM says:

    I hope Variety does not allow with this introduction of comment functions to let the site erode. The first comment below suggests where this can go, fast.

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