Capitulo Venezuela

Political Prisoners in Venezuela

Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos en Venezuela por parte del Gobierno de Hugo Chávez y Nicolás Maduro y la Posición del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos 

Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos en Venezuela, Historia Politica de la Dictadura Chavista Madurista en Venezuela, Los Estados Unidos y Venezuela, Posicion del Departamento de Estado con Relacion a Venezuela, Venezuela vista en el Mundo:

Justice Department, Disponible en: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/country/venezuela-contents

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Policy, June 14, 2017

Summary

Venezuela is in an acute political, economic, and social crisis. Following the March 2013 death of populist President Hugo Chávez, acting President Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) to be elected to a six-year term in April 2013. President Maduro now has lessthan 20% public approval, and fissures have emerged within the PSUV about the means that he has used to maintain power, including an aborted attempt to have the Supreme Court dissolve the MUD-dominated legislature.
Since March 2017, large-scale protests have called for President Maduro to release political prisoners, respect the separation of powers, and establish an electoral calendar. Instead, Maduro has scheduled July 30, 2017, elections to select delegates to a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution (the opposition is boycotting). Security forces have repressed protesters, with some 70 dead and thousands injured and jailed.

Political Prisoners in Venezuela
Political Prisoners in Venezuela

Venezuela also faces crippling economic and social challenges. An economic crisis, triggered by mismanagement and low oil prices, is worsening. In 2016, the economy contracted by 18% and inflation averaged 254% according to the International Monetary Fund. Shortages of food and medicine have caused a humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government is struggling to raise the cash needed to make its debt payments and pay for imports. Some economists maintain that Venezuela is at risk of default in 2017.
International efforts to facilitate dialogue between President Maduro and the opposition have failed, due to the government’s intransigence. In March 2017, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro called on member states to temporarily suspend Venezuela from the organization if the government did not take certain actions, including convening elections. The Maduro government reacted by initiating the two-year process required to leave the OAS. On May 31, 2017, the OAS convened a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela, but the ministers failed to agree on a resolution to address the crisis.

U.S. Policy

U.S. policymakers have had concerns for more than a decade about the deterioration of human rights and democracy in Venezuela and the government’s lack of cooperation on antidrug and counterterrorism efforts. The Obama Administration strongly criticized the Maduro government’s heavy-handed response to protests in 2014, provided assistance to civil society groups, and employed sanctions against Venezuelan officials linked to drug trafficking, terrorism, and human rights abuses. At the same time, it supported efforts at dialogue and OAS activities.

The Trump Administration has followed the same general approach. In February 2017, the Treasury Department imposed drug-trafficking sanctions against Vice President Tareck el Aissami, and in May 2017 it imposed sanctions on eight Supreme Court judges that had dissolved the legislature. President Trump and the State Department have called for the release of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López and all political prisoners. State Department officials have condemned the Supreme Court’s rulings and the repression of protests. However, the FY2018 budget request does not include funding for democracy and human rights programs in Venezuela.

Congressional Action

Congress has taken various actions in response to the situation in Venezuela. It enacted legislation in 2014 to impose sanctions on current and former Venezuelan officials responsible for human Venezuela: Background and U.S. Policy Congressional Research Service rights abuses (P.L. 113-278). In July 2016, Congress enacted legislation (P.L. 114-194) extending sanctions through 2019. In the 115th Congress, the Senate approved S.Res. 35, expressing concern for the situation in Venezuela; calling on the government to hold elections, release political prisoners, and accept humanitarian aid; and supporting OAS efforts. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31), provides $7 million in democracy and human rights assistance to Venezuelan civil society. Similar legislation has been introduced in both chambers (H.R. 2658/ S. 1018) that would, among other measures, authorize humanitarian assistance for Venezuela and broaden the activities for which Venezuelans can be sanctioned to include engaging in undemocratic practices or public corruption. H.Res. 259, introduced April 6, 2017, is similar to S.Res. 35.

Complete Report: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/975841/download

Crackdown on Dissent

Summary

In April 2017, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Venezuela to protest against the government-controlled Supreme Court’s attempt to usurp the powers of the country’s legislative

Crackdown on Dissent Venezuela
Crackdown on Dissent Venezuela

branch. Demonstrations quickly spread throughout the country and continued for months, fueled by widespread discontent with the authoritarian practices of President Nicolás Maduro and the humanitarian crisis that has devastated the country under his watch. The government responded with widespread violence and brutality against antigovernment protesters and detainees, and has denied detainees’ due process rights. While it was not the first crackdown on dissent under Maduro, the scope and severity of the repression in 2017 reached levels unseen in Venezuela in recent memory. Security forces and armed pro-government groups attacked protesters in the streets, using extreme and at times lethal force, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. Authorities detained thousands of protesters and bystanders, many of whom have been subsequently prosecuted in military courts. The crackdown has extended beyond the protests, with government intelligence agents pulling people from their homes or detaining them on the streets even when no demonstrations were taking place. Once detained, government agents have subjected opponents to abuses ranging from severe beatings to torture involving electric shocks, asphyxiation, and other techniques. This joint report by Human Rights Watch and the Penal Forum, based on in-country research, documents 88 cases involving at least 314 people who were victims of serious human rights violations during the crackdown between April and September 2017. These abuses were committed by different security forces and armed pro-government groups known as colectivos in Caracas and 13 states—Anzoátegui, Aragua, Carabobo, Barinas, Bolivar, Lara, Mérida, Miranda, Monagas, Sucre, Táchira, Vargas, and Zulia.

Complete Report: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/1022751/download

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Disponible en: https://www.state.gov/j/drl/index.htm

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to U.S. foreign policy. The values captured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other global and regional commitments are consistent with the values upon which the United States was founded centuries ago. The United States supports those persons who long to live in freedom and under democratic governments that protect universally accepted human rights. The United States uses a wide range of tools to advance a freedom agenda, including bilateral diplomacy, multilateral engagement, foreign assistance, reporting and public outreach, and economic sanctions. The United States is committed to working with democratic partners, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, and engaged citizens to support those seeking freedom.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor leads the U.S. efforts to promote democracy, protect human rights and international religious freedom, and advance labor rights globally.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Venezuela is formally a multiparty, constitutional republic, but for more than a decade, political power has been concentrated in a single party with an increasingly authoritarian executive exercising significant control over the legislative, judicial, citizen, and electoral branches of government. Nicolas Maduro won the presidency in 2013 by a 1.5-percent margin amid allegations of pre- and post-election fraud, including government interference, the use of state resources by the ruling party, and voter manipulation. The opposition won in a landslide control of the National Assembly in the December 2015 legislative elections, but the executive branch exercised extensive influence over the judiciary to secure favorable decisions from the Supreme Tribunal of Justice that undermined the National Assembly’s autonomy, ignored the separation of powers, and enabled the president to govern through a series of emergency decrees. The ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) subsequently thwarted opposition efforts to recall the President under terms laid out by the constitution, and gubernatorial elections slated for December 2016 were summarily postponed.

Civilian authorities maintained effective, though politicized, control over the security forces.

Human Rights Violations in Venezuela
Human Rights Violations in Venezuela

Principal human rights abuses reported during the year included systematic, politicized use of the judiciary to undermine legislative branch action, and intimidate and selectively prosecute critics;

indiscriminate police action against civilians leading to widespread arbitrary detentions, unlawful deprivation of life, and torture; and government curtailment of freedom of expression and of the press. The government arrested and imprisoned opposition figures and showed little respect for judicial independence or generally did not permit judges to act according to the law without fear of retaliation. At times the government blocked media outlets and harassed and intimidated privately owned television stations, other media outlets, and journalists throughout the year using threats, fines, property seizures, arrests, criminal investigations, and prosecutions.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the media, and government agencies reported extrajudicial killings by police and security forces; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions and lack of due process rights that contributed to widespread violence, riots, injuries, and deaths in prisons; inadequate juvenile detention centers; corruption and impunity in the police; arbitrary arrests and detentions; abuse of political prisoners; interference with privacy rights; lack of government respect for freedom of assembly; lack of protection for Colombian migrants; corruption at all levels of government; threats against domestic NGOs; violence against women; employment discrimination based on political preference; and restrictions on workers’ right of association.

The government sometimes took steps to punish lower-ranking government officials who committed abuses, but there were few investigations or prosecutions of senior government officials. Impunity remained a serious concern in the security forces.

Complete Report: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2016&dlid=265622

 

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:  Venezuela is formally a multiparty, constitutional republic, but for more than a decade, political power has been concentrated in a single party with an increasingly authoritarian executive exercising significant control over the legislative, judicial, citizen, and electoral branches of government. Nicolas Maduro won the presidency in 2013 by a 1.5 percent margin amid allegations of pre- and post-election fraud, including government interference, the use of state resources by the ruling party, and voter manipulation. The executive-controlled electoral and judicial bodies rejected the opposition’s claims and refused to conduct a full audit of the electoral process. These bodies, however, accepted the results of the December 6 election in which a coalition of opposition parties won two-thirds of the seats in the Legislative Assembly, ending the governing party’s control of that body. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

Indiscriminate Police Action in Venezuela
Indiscriminate Police Action in Venezuela

Principal human rights abuses reported during the year included use of the judiciary to intimidate and selectively prosecute government critics; indiscriminate police action against civilians leading to widespread arbitrary detentions and unlawful deprivation of life; and government actions to impede freedom of expression and restrict freedom of the press. The government arrested and imprisoned opposition figures and did not respect judicial independence or permit judges to act according to the law without fear of retaliation. The government blocked media outlets, and harassed and intimidated privately owned television stations, other media outlets, and journalists throughout the year using threats, fines, property seizures, arrests, criminal investigations, and prosecutions.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the media, and government agencies reported extrajudicial killings by police and security forces; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions and lack of due process rights that contributed to widespread violence, riots, injuries, and deaths in prisons; inadequate juvenile detention centers; corruption and impunity in the police; arbitrary arrests and detentions; abuse of political prisoners; interference with privacy rights; lack of government respect for freedom of assembly; lack of protection for Colombian migrants; corruption at all levels of government; threats against domestic NGOs; violence against women; anti-Semitic statements by senior government officials; trafficking in persons; violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and restrictions on workers’ right of association.

The government sometimes took steps to punish lower-ranking government officials who committed abuses, but there were few investigations or prosecutions of senior government officials. Impunity remained a serious concern in the security forces.

Complete Report: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2015&dlid=253049

VENEZUELAN TRAVEL WARNING, Disponible en: https://ve.usembassy.gov/venezuelan-travel-warning/

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Venezuela due to social unrest, violent crime, and pervasive food and medicine shortages. This travel warning also informs U.S. citizens that on July 27, the Department ordered the departure of family members and authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. government employees from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

U.S. citizens already in Venezuela are encouraged to review their personal safety and security plans to determine whether they should depart. U.S. citizens are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. The U.S. Embassy in Caracas continues to provide U.S. citizen services. All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy movement policy that limits their travel within Caracas and many parts of the country. They are prohibited from traveling within 50 miles of the Venezuela/Colombia border without prior approval. Inter-city travel by car during hours of darkness (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) is strongly discouraged and in some cases may be prohibited. U.S. government personnel must also request approval for travel more than 50 miles away from Caracas and/or overnight stays outside of Caracas. These security measures may limit the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide services. This replaces the Travel Warning issued December 15, 2016.

The political and security situation in Venezuela is unpredictable and can change quickly. Since April 2017, political rallies and demonstrations occur daily throughout the country, often with little

Venezuelan judge orders Utah man be tried on weapons charges
Venezuelan judge orders Utah man be tried on weapons charges

notice. Disruptions to traffic and public transportation are common. Demonstrations typically elicit a strong police and security force response that includes the use of tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons and rubber bullets against participants, and occasionally devolve into looting and vandalism. Armed motorcycle gangs associated with the government frequently use violence to intimidate demonstrators. Clashes between these groups have resulted in serious injuries and at least 100 deaths. U.S. citizens have reported being arrested, detained, and robbed while in close proximity to protests.

Security forces have arrested individuals, including U.S. citizens, and detained them for long periods with little or no evidence of a crime. The U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed. The detained citizen may be denied access to proper medical care, clean water, and food.

Violence and criminal activity – including homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking – pose significant and continuing security concerns. Indiscriminate violent crime is endemic throughout the country and can occur anywhere at any time. There are reports of authorities (e.g., police, airport, immigration) and criminals posing as authorities participating in robbery and extortion. Drug traffickers and illegal armed groups are active in the Colombian border states of Zulia, Tachira, and Apure.

The Simón Bolívar International Airport, in Maiquetía, is located in an extremely high-risk area for armed robbery and kidnappings. Do not take unregulated taxis from this airport and avoid ATMs in this area. Travel between the Simón Bolívar International Airport and Caracas only during daylight hours, as armed bandits frequently target night-time motorists along this route.

Due to shortages of medicine and medical supplies, U.S. citizens should be prepared to cover their own needs for over-the-counter and prescription medicines while in country. You should have medical evacuation plans in place that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance. Comprehensive medical evacuation insurance is strongly advised for all travelers.

U.S. citizens may also be detained and/or deported by Venezuelan immigration officials for not complying with visa or immigration regulations. U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela must have a valid visa that is appropriate for their specific type of travel (journalism, employment, study, etc.) or risk being detained or deported. Journalists must possess the appropriate accreditation and work visa from the Venezuelan authorities before arriving. International journalists are closely scrutinized and have been expelled and/or detained for lacking appropriate permissions to work in Venezuela or for participation in what could be seen as anti-government activity, including observing and reporting on public health facilities.

The Department of State reviews Travel Warnings on a regular basis to ensure they remain valid and up-to-date. The Travel Warning for Venezuela was updated on July 27, 2017.

For more information:

• See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide CautionTravel WarningsTravel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Venezuela.
• Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
• Contact the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, located at Calle F con Calle Surapure, Lomas de Valle Arriba, at +58 212-975-6411<tel:(212)%20975-6411> 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is 0212-907-8400.
• Call 1-888-407-4747<tel:(888)%20407-4747> toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444<tel:(202)%20501-4444> from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
• Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Presos Politicos en Venezuela
Presos Politicos en Venezuela

Venezuela-Related Sanctions

On March 9, 2015, Executive Order (E.O) 13692 “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela” was announced. The targeted sanctions in the E.O. implement the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 signed into law on December 18, 2014, and also go beyond the requirements of this legislation. This new authority is aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the significant public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela. E.O. 13692 does not target the people or economy of Venezuela.

For individuals and entities designated for the imposition of sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13692, their property and interests in property are blocked and U.S. persons wherever located are prohibited from engaging in any transactions or dealings with such individuals or entities, including their property and interests in property. The E.O. also suspends the entry into the United States of individuals meeting the criteria for economic sanctions. Except as authorized by the Secretary of State, designated individuals will not be permitted to travel to the United States.

On August 24, 2017, President Trump issued E.O. 13808 “Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to the Situation in Venezuela.” This measure, among other things, prohibits transactions by a United States person or within the United States related to certain new debt of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) and the Government of Venezuela, existing bonds issued by the Government of Venezuela prior to August 25, 2017, and dividend payments or other distributions of profits to the Government of Venezuela from any entity owned or controlled by the Government of Venezuela. In addition, E.O, 13808 prohibits the purchase by a U.S. person or within the United States of most securities from the Government of Venezuela.

These sanctions measures demonstrate the United States’ commitment to advancing respect for human rights, safeguarding democratic institutions, and protecting the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela. We continue to encourage the Venezuelan government to live up to the region’s shared commitment to promote and defend democratic governance.

Laws and Regulations

Remarks and Releases

More:

State Department slams Venezuela ‘sham’ elections

Venezuela 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Venezuela in Crisis