My name is Aldemaro Romero Diaz. I was born on September 11, 1951 in Caracas, Venezuela. I am forty three years old. ... I am a professional biologist with a Ph.D. earned at the University of Miami in 1984. ... On February 19, 1994, I had to flee Venezuela, my native country, after receiving telephonic death threats at my home against my family and myself.
So begins Romero's affidavit (1), a tale of the terror of political persecution distilled into two notarized pages.
Why was this internationally prominent biologist charged with treason and threatened with extradition, imprisonment, kidnapping, and death? In the affidavit, Romero explains:
I, together with Professor Ignacio Agudo, ... had exposed on video the killing of dolphins off the coast of Venezuela. The video ... was shown in November 1993 in news broadcasts on U.S. television stations. As a consequence, the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Venezuelan General Consulate's office in Miami, Florida, claim to have received over 20,000 letters of protest from the American public.
Venezuelan authorities countered the public outcry by asserting that Romero and Agudo had bribed the fishermen and staged the taped dolphin harpooning. Following the maxim "the best defense is an offense," they accused the biologists with "treason to the motherland" for killing a dolphin.
1. Romero, Aldemaro, Jr. Affidavit of Aldemaro Romero. February 17, 1995. Also available in box 606 of the Romero Collection.