Military intelligence personnel torture prisoners inmates in the “House of Dreams” portion of Venezuela’s most renowned prison in an effort to break their spirit. Matthew Heath, though, resisted giving up.
The American Marine Corps veteran had been imprisoned for nearly two years, yet he was still fighting against his captors, destroying cameras and microphones that dotted the walls of the prison, and challenging his keepers to a conversation. He had initially abstained from going to fictitious court proceedings in opposition to his prison circumstances. He had turned to his Marine training by June of this year in an effort to shock the Venezuelans and demand that the United States pay his case new attention. The strategy succeeded due to Heath’s alleged suicide attempt, Venezuelan authorities rushed him to the hospital. There, he was given access to a phone, which prompted Roger Carstens, the U.S. special envoy for hostage matters, to fly to Caracas and make a humanitarian release request on Heath’s behalf. He spent several more months behind bars. However, Carstens’ journey laid the groundwork for a significant prisoner swap that took place earlier this month, in which Venezuela freed seven Americans, including Heath, in exchange for the release by the United States of two well-known Venezuelans who had been convicted of drug trafficking.